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New speed-up rules, modified schedule among changes in KBO in 2023

March 30, 2023 - 11:11 By Yonhap
In this file photo from May 24, 2022, LG Twins reliever Jin Hae-soo blows his hand after grabbing a rosin bag during the top of the ninth inning of a Korea Baseball Organization regular season game against the Kiwoom Heroes at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul. (Yonhap)

The elimination of late-season two-game sets and amended pace-of-play rules are among notable changes in the South Korean baseball league this year.

The Korea Baseball Organization has decided to scrap two-game series starting this year, ending a practice that began in 2015.

In the early portions of seasons, teams had been playing a pair of three-game series per week, with Monday being the designated off day. Then in later months, they had been playing a trio of two-game series each week. This ensured that every team would play each other 16 times and they would all have the exact number of home games and road games, 72 apiece.

However, teams complained about excessive traveling and increased injury risks in the second half of the season, at a time when many players are already banged up. In some cases, teams have been forced to play three series in three different cities far apart from one another.

Starting this year, teams will now play five three-game series and then have one more game to have 16 games against each other.

Teams will alternate in having 73 home games one season and 73 away games the following year.

Also in 2023, KBO managers and pitching coaches must complete their on-mound conferences within 25 seconds, down from the previous 30 seconds. Catchers must be in a proper position after 30 seconds have passed.

The KBO will also require batters to keep one foot in the box throughout an at-bat. Violators will be fined 200,000 won ($153).

The league's goal is to have nine-inning games finish in three hours and five minutes on average in 2023, six minutes faster than 2022.

The KBO has decided to create a yet-to-be-named fielding award to recognize defense, in the mold of the Gold Glove in Major League Baseball.

The KBO currently has an award titled Golden Glove, which, despite its connotation, is typically given to best offensive players at each position.

Also starting in 2023, umpires will check pitchers' hands for possible foreign substances, and violators will be immediately rejected and face a 10-game suspension.

Umpires will inspect pitchers' hands before or during a game, or when an opposing team requests such an inspection.

The KBO will also crack down on the use of custom-made rosin bags and will only permit products authorized for use in the KBO, Major League Baseball or Nippon Professional Baseball. Teams must submit rosin bags for approval by the umpiring crew at least one hour before first pitch.

The size of the sliding mitt for base runners will be limited to 30 centimeters in length and 13 centimeters in width. The protective glove must not come loose during plays, and anyone using illegal mitts will be fined 2 million won. (Yonhap)