Texas' Beltre finds his hop to get back into batter's box
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) When it comes to the baseball's new speed-up rules, Adrian Beltre is ready to hop to it. He's really doing it.
Beltre already had to be reminded twice in the season's initial days to stay in the batter's box, including on the Texas third baseman's 36th birthday Tuesday. And when given a prompt by the home plate umpire, he bounded back in.
''I'm old. I can't think, I can't process all that stuff sometimes,'' Beltre joked before his Texas Rangers played Oakland on Wednesday night. ''You go to home plate with your mindset of your approach, what you're doing, you're not thinking about staying in the box. I'm not a guy who goes far away but I like to get out and look at my coach. It's going to take some time to get used to. I don't mind it, but I just forget.''
Umpire Bill Miller mentioned it in Monday's opener when Beltre stepped out and quickly jumped back into the box upon realizing it. After the second pitch of his first at-bat was in the dirt against Sonny Gray, he took four steps out and tapped his bat on each foot feet before coming back.
On Tuesday night, plate umpire Doug Eddings warned him again. Beltre made an immediate, athletic hop right back into the box during the first inning of a 3-1 win.
''I think he caught himself a couple times,'' Eddings said at the Oakland Coliseum before working Wednesday's game. ''It's new to everybody, and that's what I said, `It's new to everybody.' Everybody's making an effort, umpires and players. Sometimes I forget to even notice that because it's something that we haven't ever done. Years and years of playing baseball, they're used to a routine, same thing with us. It's a joint effort.''
Beltre said he is accustomed to stepping out and looking to third base coach Tony Beasley for his sign, but quickly realized his errors. Eddings and Miller each said Wednesday they know it will be a learning process for both players and umpires adjusting to new pace of game rules. One of those is keeping one foot in the batter's box, with some exceptions.
Slugger Prince Fielder is figuring it out himself, and got a chuckle out of watching Beltre jump and jive.
''I saw. That was hilarious,'' Fielder said. ''It's on everyone's mind. Once they say it, you don't want the umpires to think you're not going by the rules, like, `My bad.' The last thing you're thinking about is your foot.''
Also in the opener, Beltre took three steps out of the box in the seventh inning.
''Guys are just used to stepping out,'' Miller said. ''He kind of made it lighthearted by making a scene. Before I could even say anything, he looked at me and made eye contact and jumped back in the box.''
MLB spokesman Michael Teevan said Wednesday that about 10 letters had been sent since the season began warning players, who could be subject to fines beginning May 1. Names weren't released, though Beltre conceivably could be among those reminded they are violating the rules.
''I'm sure around the league veteran guys are going to have to be reminded a lot,'' Texas manager Jeff Banister said. ''It's just what they've been doing for a long time, their entire careers, and it's going to be an adjustment period for them. But how great it is it that he does it with a little bit of energy and a smile on his face? It didn't seem to affect him any. I'm sure he'll find his rhythm with it, the rest of the guys will find their rhythm with it also. They know that it's part of the game and it's here to stay.''