Red Sox Report: Christian Vazquez really hates new rule limiting mound visits

Christian Vazquez
Photo credit Thomas B. Shea/USA Today Sports

Christian Vazquez hates baseball's new rules designed to limit mound visits and keep catchers behind the plate.

"I don't like it," the Red Sox catcher said on Wednesday. "It's too much change. They want to hurry up the game, but if I need to go 12 times for a mound visit, I need it, man. To change signs, to talk to my pitcher . . . (taking that away,) it's too much."

MLB recently rolled out rules changed designed to accelerate pace-of-play. Among them: each team will receive only six mound visits during a nine-inning game, not including pitching changes, injuries, or crossed signs. Any player visiting the mound will count as a visit.

After catchers Martin Maldonado of the Angels and Willson Contreras of the Cubs said they'd take a fine for making extra visits, MLB executive Joe Torre clarified that umpires will send any player or coach trying to make a seventh visit back to his position or the dugout. Failure to comply could result in fines or ejection.

Vazquez was asked what he'd do if told he'd reached his limit of visits.

"Stay there," he said with a resigned shrug. "We'll need to have something to change the signs with a man on second base without going to the mound. It's going to be tough."

Vazquez explained the necessity of mound visits. For one, AL East teams know each other's signs, and must constantly change them with runners on second base.

"That's the little thing that helps you win a game," he said. "If the runner has the signs, you need to go out to the mound and change it. If not, it's going to be a two-run homer. The fans pay to see a great game, but you need to make sure you do the right things to win the game.

"I hope they let me go one more. Seven times," he added. "We need it, man. In our division, they see a lot of signs. It's tough. I don't agree with that."

He also uses visits to steady a struggling hurler.

"Calm down the pitcher," he said. "Maybe he's struggling yanking the ball. You need to slow him down, stay tall, something. Make sure you're calming down the pitcher. The pitcher needs to make sure they know what they're doing to control the game, slow down the game. We waste a mound visit doing that, it's going to be harder for us."

Vazquez said he'd consider speaking to manager Alex Cora and president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski about the rules. "We need those mound visits," he said.

What he won't do is embrace the possibility of a pitch clock. Manfred tabled that proposal this year, but many believe it's inevitable as the game looks to keep fans from changing the channel. Asked which he preferred between limited mound visits and a pitch clock, Vazquez laughed.

"I don't like either," he said. "We have a routine. Speeding up is going to break that for us. I don't like somebody saying, hey let's go, hurry up. The game is changing so much, but it is what it is.

"I think (fans) are watching more on the phone, the games. I don't really think they're watching the games on TV. They're watching more the box score on their cell phone. It is what it is. I don't like it."