<
>

Lester: Clock takes beauty away

CHICAGO -- New Cubs pitcher Jon Lester is not in favor of a pitch clock in order to speed up games.

Major League Baseball will experiment with a clock at Double-A and Triple-A this season after testing it at the Arizona Fall League last year. It won't be in the majors in 2015, but could make its way there in the coming years -- something Lester firmly opposes.

"If you [use a pitch clock] you take the beauty out of the game," he said Friday night at the Cubs' fans convention. "There's such a cat-and-mouse game as far as messing up hitters' timing, messing up pitchers' timing. Different things that fans and people that have never played this game don't understand. I feel like if you do add a clock it just takes all the beauty away from the game. I think you're going down a path you don't want to go down."

Games were at a historic length last season, averaging 3 hours, 8 minutes. Toward the end of the season, commissioner Bud Selig put together a "Pace of Game" committee, and one recommendation tried in the AFL included making sure a pitcher threw the ball within 20 seconds by providing a "pitch clock" in the ballpark that was visible for him to see. The penalty for exceeding 20 seconds was a ball added to the hitter's count. Games were shortened by about 10 minutes.

"It's a beautiful sport," Lester said. "There's no time limit, there's no shot clock. There's no nothing. For me, I've always been a big believer in the fans know what they're getting themselves into when they show up. If it's a three-hour game it's a three-hour game. If it's a five-hour game it's a five-hour game."

Baseball hasn't said what it would take to implement a clock at the major league level and is trying other avenues to speed up play. Lester doesn't get what all the fuss is about.

"I feel like if you go from a 3-hour game to a 2:50 game, is that really going to make a difference?" he said.