MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) — This season, Major League Baseball increased the size of the first, second and third base from 15 to 18 inches across minor league levels. It seems like a minor change, one many fans and even some of the players, might not notice at first.
“We’ve had to adapt to something new almost every week in the minor leagues. I feel like it’s just who can adapt the best and the quickest at this point,” Trash Pandas pitcher Coleman Crow said.
“I noticed it the first day we came out here to practice that they were slightly bigger but honestly as the year’s gone on I completely forgot about it. It makes it easier if you hit an infield single to get to the bag,” Trash Pandas outfielder Bryce Teodosio added.
“It’s a different process when you first start running the bases kind of even though all of these angles are different, it’s just ingrained in you you know how to turn and hit the right corner of the base and these are an adjustment having to learn. When they first adjust to it, it feels like you’re playing a totally different game,” Trash Pandas outfielder Preston Palmeiro said.
“The margins were so tight. the game is so efficient at this level and only gets more efficient as you go up so any small change is going to yield big dividends,” Trash Pandas manager Andy Schatzley added.
While it was implemented to make play safer, it also helped create an emphasis on the little things.
“It’s put a higher premium on the baserunning and the value of it, it’s made sliding more of an art, it’s made tagging a more difficult skill, that’s something you have to identify and target and work on,” Schatzley said.
The larger bases coupled with pitchers only getting two pickoff attempts per at-bat has allowed teams to be more aggressive on the base paths, something the Trash Pandas were focused on doing this season. Currently, they’re third in the league with 104 stolen bases.
“It’s a little bit easier going in and stealing because the base is bigger, they can slide more towards the outfield, kind of get away from the tag,” Palmeiro said.
“Guys that are really elite baserunners, it just gives them more options. It makes the ability to return a little bit easier, it makes their athleticism in sliding play up more and it’s just a better overall game,” Schatzley added.
It seems like Major League Baseball continues to throw experimental rule changes at the minors and while it’s been an adjustment for the Trash Pandas, they know it’s only helping them in the long run.
“It’s different, it’s not traditional game, but when you can just get used to it and don’t have to think, and when you’re just used to that, it’s not going to have that mental effect,” Palmeiro said.
“Playing traditional baseball, you’ve never even heard of this kind of rules before. The sooner you can get adjusted to some new rules the better. If they’re going to implement this stuff in the minor leagues, it’s definitely good for us to do it here, right now,” Teodosio added.
The Trash Pandas will continue their series with the Mississippi Braves Saturday night with the first pitch set for 6:05 p.m.