New MLB bases 'look like a pizza box,' Alex Cora says

Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora said he agrees with Major League Baseball's new rules but offered one notable quip on the first day of spring training.

"The bases, they're the bases," Cora told reporters Tuesday. "Wait 'til you see them -- they look like a pizza box, to be honest with you."

MLB has adopted a series of new rules that will be implemented this season, including increasing the size of the bases from 15 square inches to 18 square inches.

The enlarged bases are primarily intended to promote safety -- first basemen are less likely to get stepped on -- but also are expected to lead to an increase in stolen base attempts because the basepaths have been shortened by 4 inches.

Cora noted, however, that he has managed the Red Sox to "play fast whenever we can" and said he does not think stolen base totals will increase exponentially. Marlins infielder Jon Berti led the majors with 41 stolen bases last season, while Trevor Story paced the Red Sox with 13.

"Talking to the minor league coaches and everybody that used the rules last year -- it's not that all of the sudden we're going to steal 100 bags with a guy," Cora said. "The value of the out is still in play, and you get 27. So you got to be smart, you got to be efficient."

MLB also will introduce a pitch clock that will count down 15 seconds with no runners on base and 20 seconds with runners. The MLB clock will be slightly longer than the version experimented with in the minor leagues last season -- 14 seconds with the bases empty and 19 seconds with runners on at Triple-A, and 14 and 18 at lower levels.

Other new rules include a ban of defensive shifting that will require four players other than the pitcher and the catcher to be in front of the outfield grass when a pitch is thrown, including two of the four on either side of second base.

In addition, there will be a limit during each plate appearance of two pickoff attempts or steps off the rubber, what MLB calls disengagements. If a third attempt is made and is unsuccessful, a balk would be called. The limit would be reset to two during a plate appearance if a runner advances.

Coaching staffs across MLB will face a challenge, according to Cora, because of the abbreviated spring training schedule created by the World Baseball Classic, which runs March 7-21.

"The timing of it -- I agree with the rules -- but the timing is a little bit tougher because of the tournament," he said. "But it is what it is. We have a lot of guys going to the tournament, and we have to do a good job the first 10 to 15 days [of spring training] to get them used to it.

"You'll see a lot of pitch clocks all over the place, and you'll hear horns and all that stuff trying to remind guys of the pitch clock, which is the most important thing."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.