116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
His team was beating Peoria in the top of the eighth inning, 6-4, but the Chiefs had a run in, guys on first and second base and only one away. A sticky situation.
A stickier situation than it looked on the surface considering it’s “speed baseball” this season in the minor leagues. Pitch clocks are in use, visible behind home plate and in the outfield.
Pitchers have 14 seconds to go into their windup when there are no runners on base. They have 18 seconds to throw when there are guys on base.
“I swear, there are times I look, and I can’t even breathe because there’s two seconds left, and I’ve got to go,” Bentley said. “There were times, you probably saw it, where I didn’t even look at second (today) because I didn’t have enough time. The catcher throws the signs, and I just go.”
Major League Baseball, which runs the minors, is touting how this experimental rule is reducing game times by an average of 20 minutes. But is it really a good thing when you’ve got situations like Bentley was thrown into Sunday?
It’s difficult enough to make an important late-game pitch, and now guys are being asked to do it in a specific time frame. The same for hitters, who are not allowed to completely step out of the box and must be ready to hit with nine seconds left on the clock.
It’s an automatic ball if the pitcher offends the rule, an automatic strike if the hitter does. Opinions from players, managers and coaches vary on all this.
“It’s tough because you’re worried about it at the same time executing a pitch,” Bentley said. “Hopefully in a big situation you don’t leave it up and get hurt. You’ve got to worry about a couple of things now this year. It’s all right, though. We’ll get used to it.”
Bentley picked up back-to-back strikeouts to end the eighth-inning threat and overcame a leadoff bunt single in the ninth to pick up the save for starting pitcher Aaron Rozek (3-0). The Kernels improved to 12-3, winning five of six games in the series.
Cedar Rapids scored its six runs the first two innings. Anthony Prato led off the bottom of the first with a 415-foot home run to center, with Willie Joe Garry Jr.’s RBI double in the second giving the Kernels the lead for good, 3-2.
Garry also doubled later in the game, had a big triple in Saturday afternoon’s win and raised his very early season batting average from .133 to .241 in this series. He was a ninth-round draft pick of the Minnesota Twins in 2018 out of a high school in Mississippi and has definite raw ability.
“Very athletic. He’s got speed, he can throw. Has some pop in his bat,” said Kernels Manager Brian Dinkelman. “Just trying to learn the game: offense, defense, baserunning, everything. Put him out there, give him some experience and try to help him along the way. He’s definitely an athlete, so those are the guys you hand on to and try and coach along.”
Cedar Rapids has Monday off, then begins a six-game road series Tuesday at Beloit.
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