Playing two minor-league rehab games gave Rockies left fielder Kris Bryant a preview of major-league baseball’s possible future.
Namely, a pitch clock. The veteran player came away from the experience with mixed feelings and skepticism.
“The pitch clock made the game go a lot faster,” Bryant said Saturday morning before the first game of a doubleheader against the Mets at Coors Field. “But I feel like, sometimes, in talking with a lot of guys, they were getting into the box and there were already three pitches (thrown) and they were like, ‘I don’t even know what I’m trying to do here.’
“So I don’t know how well that would play (in the majors), but it definitely made the games move along a little quicker.”
Bryant made two rehab starts with Triple-A Albuquerque at Salt Lake City before rejoining the Rockies for their weekend series against the Mets at Coors Field. The pitch clock, which for the first time is being used across all full-season leagues in minor league baseball, has definitely made an impact.
According to Baseball America’s research, the pitch clock has whittled 24 minutes off the average minor league game. Games played before April 15 took an average of 2 hours and 59 minutes to complete. Since then, with the new rules in effect, games have averaged 2:34.
Data collected by Baseball America also shows that while the number of plate appearances or pitches thrown has remained steady, games are taking 13.4% less time to play.
Bryant, however, still thinks that a lot of big-leaguers will balk at a pitch clock.
“There would be a lot of confrontation,” he said. “I know with a lot of my ex-teammates, there would be some obscenities said. Plenty of them, so I don’t know if it would work.”
Commissioner Rob Manfred said in April that Major League Baseball is still studying the pitch clock. Manfred, and many others, are concerned by games that average more than three hours to complete. The average time of game this season is 3:05.
“It is something that remains high on the priority list of ownership,” Manfred said, adding that MLB will “get complete input from the players.”
During his short stint with the Isotopes, Bryant also experienced games with the experimental automated strike zone and larger bases.
Regarding “robo-umps,” Bryant said: “There were some questionable calls, for sure.”
But he’s completely on board with the bigger bases, which increased from 15 inches square to 18 inches square.
“I think the bigger bases there were awesome,” Bryant said. “They need to be up here. They are definitely a lot safer, for sure.”
Bryant, who was on the injured list since April 26 because of a strained lower back, played in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, going 1-for-4 with two strikeouts in the Rockies’ 5-1 loss to the Mets. He was not expected to play in Game 2, unless it was as a pinch-hitter.
Before the game, Bryant said he was “seeing the ball well,” adding that his lower back felt fine. After the game, Bryant said he felt no ill effects, despite a game-time temperature of 45 degrees.
Hit by pitch. Shortstop Jose Iglesias was hit by a pitch in his elbow in the fourth inning of Game 1 and was replaced by Garrett Hampson in the ninth inning.
After the game, Black said that Iglesias was getting treatment and said the elbow, “Sort of ballooned up with swelling.”
“He’s going to be fine, long-term,” Black added. “But it’s swollen and we are working to get that down.”
Footnotes. Although he pitched poorly in Game 1, starter German Marquez matched a season-high with seven strikeouts, boosting his career total to 855 and passing Jon Gray (849) for second all-time in franchise history. … The Game 1 loss to the Mets dropped the Rockies to 2-5 on the current homestand. They have allowed seven or more runs in four of six games and double-digit runs twice.
Mets RHP Taijuan Walker (1-0, 3.52) at Rockies LHP Austin Gomber (2-3, 4.38)
1:10 p.m. Sunday, Coors Field
Radio: 850 AM/94.1 FM
The Rockies have lost Gomber’s last two outings, in part because the lefty’s yielded eight earned runs across 11 1/3 innings. He hasn’t helped himself with five walks to just six strikeouts in that span. His last win came two weeks ago in a 5-2 victory over the Nationals. In three starts at Coors Field this season, opponents are hitting .311 against him. Gomber has faced the Mets just once, picking up the victory with a strong start in which he pitched eight innings, allowing two runs on four hits while striking out eight and walking two.
In his last outing, Walker gave up three earned runs across five innings against the Cardinals and had a season-high four strikeouts. He’s been excellent against left-handed hitters. Since 2021, he’s limited lefties to a .192 average, the seventh-best mark among right-handed pitchers over that span. In six career starts vs. the Rockies, he’s 2-1 with a 2.43 ERA. He’s pitched well at Coors Field, going 2-1 with a 2.63 ERA in four starts.
Trending: Outfielder Yonathan Daza finished the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader going 1-for-4, extending his career-best hitting streak to 12 games. He tied Connor Joe (April 11-25) for the longest hitting streak of the season for the Rockies.
At issue: The Rockies entered Saturday night’s Game 2 with just seven stolen bases, the fewest in the National League. The Rockies were the only team in the majors with more caught-stealings (eight) than stolen bases.
Monday: Rockies RHP Chad Kuhl (3-2, 3.86) at Pirates RHP JT Brubaker (0-4, 5.50), 4:35 p.m., ATTRM
Tuesday: Rockies LHP Kyle Freeland (1-4, 4.85) at Pirates TBA, 4:35 p.m., ATTRM
Wednesday: Rockies TBA at Pirates TBA, 10:35 a.m., ATTRM
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