PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Houston Astros pitcher Luis Garcia had one of the most anticipated spring training performances in a long time.
The star pitcher debuted his new windup against the New York Mets, after the MLB rules designed to speed up the games and limit illegal pitches. Garcia's "rock the baby" motion followed by his cha-cha slide will no longer fly under the rules.
The new motion only shaved off about three seconds, but the results are what matter. So how did Garcia fair?
The-26-year-old from Venezuela finished his spring training start with four strikeouts in two innings, giving up just one hit and no walks.
“The pitch timer is — by far — the biggest change that's coming this season,” said MLB executive vice president Morgan Sword said Tuesday. “Frankly, it's probably the biggest change that's been made to baseball in most of our lifetimes.”
The pitch clock was used during minor league games last season with dramatic results. Games that used the clock were an average of 25 minutes shorter than those that didn't.
Sword said MLB's research shows fans prefer games that last around 2:30 instead of over three hours in an average season.
According to Astros reporter Brian McTaggart, the Astros were told about the rule in December.
“We just had to get a hold of Luis and told him that it might not be allowed, so we need to practice something a little more traditional,” Houston pitching coach Josh Miller told McTaggart. “If he's not able to use it anymore, it'll be a shame in my opinion. But like I said, I'm sure he'll adapt and do fine without it.”