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Cubs' Willson Contreras not buying limit on mound visits

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Chicago Cubscatcher Willson Contreras isn't exactly on board with Major League Baseball's new pace-of-play rules, which include a limit on mound visits per game.

Contreras is claiming he'll defy the rule that limits teams to six visits for the first nine innings of a game, minus a few exceptions.

"I don't even care," Contreras said Tuesday. "If I have to go [out there] again and pay the price for my team I will."

Contreras indicated he would be willing to pay a fine or deal with even harsher consequences -- though baseball is hoping it never gets that far. Speaking at a news conference later Tuesday, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and chief officer Joe Torre said umpires simply will tell a catcher or other player to return to his position if his team has used up its six visits. If a catcher defies that order and gets into an argument with an umpire, then an ejection could be in order.

Contreras understands the consequences and is willing to accept them if need be.

"What about a tight game or an extra-inning game and you have to go out there?" he asked rhetorically. "They cannot say anything about that. That's my team. If they are going to fine me for mound visit No. 7, I'll pay the price."

Contreras was especially concerned about new Cubs pitcher Yu Darvish, who throws an unusually large array of pitches.

For his part, Darvish isn't too worried.

"It's still early in spring training, so I think it'll be OK," the Japanese right-hander said through an interpreter.

Other pitchers around the league are concerned, though.

Dallas Keuchel of the World Series champion Houston Astros said: "Ultimately, the umpires have discretion over what they count as a mound visit. ... Some of the stuff that is just second nature to baseball players is now being counted as a mound visit, and it's going to be a weird situation to follow because that's just part of the game. When you change part of the game [that's] second nature to guys, it's going to take a while to get used to."

Teammate Lance McCullerssaid players want to make sure that fans get what they paid for in terms of quality of play.

"I think there are so many factors that can really affect the game," he said. "To try to peel those back for a couple extra minutes at the end, I don't know if that's the answer."

The last time McCullers pitched, he plunked four Dodgers in the first three innings of Game 7 of the World Series. He said catchers don't come to the mound to talk about the weather.

"You think I want to break rhythm and tempo during a game to talk about signs behind my glove?" he said. "No, it's a necessary reaction to an issue we, as pitchers and catcher, are facing. I guess enforcing the integrity by hitting batters is better than an extra 4 minutes to discuss signs."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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