There are a couple of kinks that still need to be ironed out with regards to the 15-second rule. Today's call against Masahiro Tanaka is a perfect example.
Tanaka was called on the 15-second rule in a practice game earlier today. Nothing really special about that, except how it was called. Seconds earlier, the home plate ump was wiping off the dirt on home plate, ticking seconds off the clock. Time out was never called and Tanaka's 15-seconds were up.
Tanaka appealing the 15-second call...
Tanaka immediately appealed the call, but all the home plate ump could do was say that he would take the suggestion into consideration. "The home plate ump should have called a time out. That was our fault," said Pacific League Chief Umpire Yoshio Maekawa when asked about the call after the game.
...The NPB has been fielding calls from fans regarding the 15-second rule. It appears as though many feel the rule isn't being fair to pitchers.
A representative with the NPB said, "I think the main problem is that no one has explained all the rules."
- The rule is not in effect when runners are on base.
- Batters are not allowed to step out of the box without reason. If a batter does step out without reason and the pitcher throws a strike, that strike will be official.
- And above all else, the rule is meant to help speed up the game.
The NPB rep added, "The rule is to be used at the discretion of the umps."
...Masahiro Tanaka appears to have picked up a new pitch while playing catch with Hisashi Iwakuma and tossing a WBC-regulate ball around.
"Woah! Ma-kun has a magic pitch. Amazing. It's a new pitch," said Iwakuma after failing to catch the ball thrown to him.
The new pitch appears to be a forkball of some sort that drops off the table a lot more quickly.
(Thanks for the heads up Shin!)
...Training camp photos from February 12th.