Japan Amateur Baseball Association and the All Japan University Baseball Federation introduced special rules on February 3 to help speed up Industrial League and University League baseball games this year.
- Pitchers will be allowed to throw up to five practice pitches.
- The pitcher will have up to twelve seconds with no runners and up to twenty seconds with runners to throw the ball after the catcher or other infielder gets the ball from the umpire. If there is no runner on base, the batter will be given a ball. If there are runners, the batter will be given a ball after three failed attempts. The twenty second clock will reset on pick-off throws.
- Managers and coaches will have to follow rule 8.06 when visiting pitchers on the mound.
- Managers and coaches will be allowed to make three mound visits during one nine inning game. A visit will not be counted as a mound visit when pitchers are changed. Pitchers will automatically be removed from games after three mound visits. Rule 8.06 will be used during extra innings.
- If a pitching change is made in the middle of the inning and the manager or coach stays while the new pitcher begins warm-ups, the stay will be counted as one mound visit. The same will apply when pitchers are changed before the start of an inning. Visits will be counted as mound visits during pitching changes if the manager or coach stays when the new pitcher begins warm-ups.
- The manager or coach will have to announce a pitching change to the umpire before their fourth mound visit or second mound visit in one inning.
- During double-switches, the manager must announce batting order changes to the umpire before they cross the foul line. Double-switches will not be allowed once the manager or coach crosses the foul line.
- Mound visits by managers or coaches will be limited to forty-five seconds.
- Infielders, including catchers, will be allowed to one mound visit per inning. One infielder will be allowed to visit the mound when the manager or coach visits the mound. This will count as one mound visit by an infielder. The catcher will be allowed to visit the mound after a new pitcher finished throwing warm-ups. This will not be counted as a mound visit by an infielder.
- Managers will be allowed to call time and speak to batters, base runners, or coaches up to three times during the game. Managers will be allowed to call time to speak to batters, base runners, or coaches up to one time for every three innings in extra innings. Managers will be allowed to talk to batters, base runners, or coaches during other moments when time is called (for example: opponent manager or coach is visiting the mound, injury on the field, player substitutions) without any penalty, provided they do not delay the game.
Source: official announcement
The NPB announced a number of rule updates on January 27. Among them:
- Rule 6.10b - Pitchers can replace designated hitters as a hitter or runner, but that will terminate the designated hitter role for the remainder of the game. A pitcher in the game can become a hitter or runner for the designated hitter.
Umpire licenses will be introduced at the amateur baseball level. There will be four classes: S, 1, 2, 3. Class 1 licenses will be required for high school Koshien Tournaments and various other national tournaments.
Source: Sports Hochi 1/9/2015