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MLB and Atlantic League delay robot umpire experiment and rule change

Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB) have announced they will delay the introduction of robotic umpiring and an experimental rule change in the independent minor league.

The two organisations entered into a partnership in February that allows MLB to test and observe the effects of experimental playing rules and equipment changes during the Atlantic League’s Championship season.

Radar-tracking technology which calls balls and strikes was scheduled to be used when the minor league starts on April 25, but the two organisations now say the technology “will be implemented gradually over the course of the 2019 season”.

The two leagues have also pushed back an experiment to extend the distance between the pitching rubber and home plate by two feet to 62.5 feet. This has been delayed from the second half of the Atlantic League’s 2019 season to the same point in 2020.

“These changes reflect the dynamic nature of the partnership, as well as a joint desire that the upcoming technology upgrades at ALPB ballparks be fully installed and calibrated prior to implementation of these experimental playing rules,” said a joint statement.

Rick White, president of the ALPB said: “Our partnership with Major League Baseball calls for ongoing mutual consultation. As we conduct discussions and work together, certain adjustments will need to be made on an ongoing basis in order to serve the partnership’s priority of providing the best possible data to Major League Baseball in the highly-competitive Atlantic League environment.”