MLB has a process for avoiding pitch-clock violations like Cody Bellinger’s

Home plate umpire Jim Wolf calls a strike on Cubs batter Cody Bellinger for a pitch-clock violation.
Home plate umpire Jim Wolf calls a strike on Cubs batter Cody Bellinger, right, for a pitch-clock violation during the first inning against the Dodgers on Friday night.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

The agent for Cody Bellinger called Major League Baseball deputy commissioner Dan Halem to complain about the pitch-clock violation that Bellinger received when the Chicago Cubs center fielder stepped out of the batter’s box in anticipation of a lengthy ovation before his first at-bat as a visitor in Chavez Ravine on Friday night.

“I called [Halem] and said, ‘Why do we not have provisions for this?’ And he goes, ‘We do,” agent Scott Boras said before Saturday night’s game between the Cubs and Dodgers. “It’s umpire discretion, and normally the clubs notify the umpires beforehand if they have any kind of special things.

Reliever Andre Jackson allowed four home runs, including three in four at-bats, in the Dodgers’ 8-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs.

April 14, 2023

“[Dodgers manager Dave Roberts] was even screaming from the dugout, ‘Hey, give him some time!’ You have the opposing manager trying to make sure a [visiting] player is appropriately welcomed. I couldn’t believe it. I was like, ‘Why are you not doing that?’ Unreal.”


The Dodgers had saluted Bellinger, who won the 2017 National League rookie-of-the-year award and the 2019 NL most-valuable-player award during his six years (2017-2022) in Los Angeles, with a pregame video tribute, Bellinger soaking in a rousing ovation as he waved his cap to the crowd behind first base.

But when Bellinger stepped out of the box in the second inning, the crowd reaction was a little more muted. It seemed unclear that another lengthy ovation was coming, so when Bellinger wasn’t ready to hit when the pitch clock reached eight seconds, umpire Jim Wolf slapped him with a violation, resulting in strike one.

As part of MLB’s pitch-clock provisions, teams can request a stoppage in play for ovations they are anticipating, like the reception Aaron Judge got in Yankee Stadium on opening day. But those requests must be made to and approved by the commissioner’s office, which notifies the crew chief for that game.

But according to a major league official who is familiar with the Bellinger situation but not authorized to speak publicly about it, neither the Cubs nor Dodgers made such a request before Friday night’s game, so neither crew chief Alan Porter nor Wolf was aware of a possible stoppage in play for Bellinger.

David Peralta’s pinch-hit single to right field in the ninth scores James Outman and Miguel Vargas to propel the Dodgers to a 2-1 win over the Cubs.

April 15, 2023

That was of little solace to Boras, who was inundated with video clips and commentary about the Bellinger at-bat throughout the day Saturday.

“I watched eight games, and it was on every TV broadcast, they all brought it up and had film of it,” Boras said. “I was like, ‘What are our rules doing? It’s kind of embarrassing for MLB.”