The first week of the MLB season produced more nervousness than usual around the numbers, but not the stats fans crave.
Instead, the pitch clock, timer between batters, and review of how quickly batboys and batgirls carry out their duties, as outlined in a memo from Major League Baseball. before the start of the season, are the new figures to note.
Batboys and batgirls have been warned.
“I think it’s a little crazy,” said Tino Vigil, 24, a batboy for the Colorado Rockies. “I think trying to speed everything up is probably not the best thing in the world.”
But now it’s reality.
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“…the batboys are going to be a big deal,” New York Mets manager Buck Showalter said during spring training. “You better have a good batboy. A bad batboy is going to make things harder.”
Even before the new vetting, Vigil said, batboys and batgirls were under pressure.
“The whole crowd and the whole stadium are waiting for you,” he said. “It gets intense, that’s for sure.”
It’s about to get even more intense.
Vigil and other batboys said they learned about the changes on social media. The memo, released March 22, also instructs batboys and batgirls to ready a player’s bat if they are to start an inning.
Players and clubs have raised the issue of the batboy’s performance in their regular discussions with MLB over the new rules, according to a person familiar with the discussions. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition that they not be identified as they were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.
The person highlighted the success of the new rules during spring training and brought up the issue of batboys and batgirls. performance is just one small facet of a much bigger picture.
Until Monday, the average playing time was 2 hours and 38 minutes, compared to 3:09 at the same time last year. The average playing time for the 2022 regular season was 3:03.
But there seems to be cause for concern.
In addition to the pitch clock, there is a timer allowing 30 seconds between batters. Batboys and Batgirls will expect to collect bats, protective gear, and return to the dugout so as not to slow down the game.
During an exhibition game between the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals, a delay in collecting a bat and equipment prompted a Royals batboy to duck in the Rangers dugout. Urgency: Getting out of the field to avoid slowing play as the next batter prepares to hit.
“They’re like, ‘Hey, what are you doing?'” recalled Tim Plummer, the batboy who is employed by Rangers but works for the visiting team. (Most visiting teams use batboys employed by the home team.)
Plummer said he acted on the advice of the home plate umpire, who said it was best to hide inside the dugout if he couldn’t get back to the dugout visitors without slowing down the game.
– More men than boys collect bats.
After three-year-old Darren of Dusty Baker narrowly avoided disaster in the 2002 World Series, MLB began requiring all batboys and batgirls to be at least 14 years old.
But the clubs usually hire people who are old enough to buy not only peanuts and crackers, but also beer.
– Nine rounds of work as a batboy looks easier than it is.
“You can’t sprint out of the dugout for the first two runs because then you’ll get out of breath,” Vigil said. “Another thing is if you have to use the toilet, it’s quite difficult to add that break to it as well. Or even deliver water to the referees. So there are a lot of pieces and pieces that come into play. »
– There are a lot of ball girls stationed in foul territory and picking up foul balls. But three current batboys and one former batboy said they were unaware of any girls or women working as batgirls.
When asked how many batgirls are employed by teams, MLB told USA TODAY Sports it doesn’t keep track of that information, saying it’s a club issue.
Even fans can find it hard to keep up with their team’s batboys, as they often change, sometimes from game to game or series to series.
Regardless of getting the job done, it will take its toll, according to Plummer. He joined the Rangers 12 years ago and (listen up, MLB evaluators) said it was as quick as ever.
“But my legs hurt more when the game is over,” he said.
He’s unlikely to face the prospect of losing his job after an MLB assessment.
Plummer said he plans to give up work at the end of the season to spend more time with his family.
Reality of work
It’s worth learning a few things before applying for the position, which pays roughly minimum wage, plus tips and, for the lucky few, playoff shares when teams qualify for the playoffs.
A job posting for batboy posted by the Royals this year on salary.com estimated the annual salary to be $39,469 to $51,435. A job posting for “bat” posted by the Cincinnati Reds in 2022 on salary.com estimated the average hourly wage to be $16.21 to $20.95.
Joey Kenrick, who worked as a batboy for the Tampa Bay Rays between 2018 and 2021, said he regularly logged more than 10 hours on game days. The job involves much more than retrieving bats.
He said he arrived as early as nine hours before games were scheduled to start at 7 p.m. and stayed until 3 a.m.
Kenrick, 19, said he quit after the 2021 season and started a much more profitable hauling business. But he also said he doesn’t regret his time as a batboy.
“It’s cool work, don’t get me wrong,” he said. “But, man, I’m not going to hang somebody’s laundry for the rest of my life for 10 bucks an hour.”
Contributor: Bob Nightengale