Pardon the cliché, but this college baseball season is a whole new ball game.
Specifications have been changed for the aluminum bats, taking some of the sizzle (and danger) out of swings.
The pace of the game, painfully slow in recent years, will be pushed along by a 20-second clock (maximum time between pitches when the bases are empty) and a 90-second clock (time between half-innings for non-televised games).
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After a team warning, penalties for time violations are a called ball when the defensive team is at fault, or a strike if the offense is to blame.
University of Kentucky games averaged more than three hours, three minutes last season; 32 of 56 games lasted longer than three hours, including one four-hour ordeal at Auburn.
How the new rules will affect this UK team will begin to tell Friday, when the Wildcats open their season at the College of Charleston.
"You can still hit a home run, but you've got to 'hit' it," Coach Gary Henderson said of the new bats. "You can't cap it, you can't get jammed, you can't be out front. You've got to hit it on the sweet spot. It's got to be a good, balanced stroke and, if you do, the ball leaves the yard."
Alex Meyer, UK's highly regarded 6-foot-9, 217-pound right-hander, said the new bats are "exciting" from his perspective.
"I remember, my freshman year, some of those bats they were swinging, those balls were flying out on anything," he said. "These new ones, it seems like they're swinging wood, so it's going to work out well for us. I'm looking forward to it, especially as a pitcher. I'm as happy as can be about it."
Meyer sees 20 seconds between pitches as a non-issue. What could be a problem, though, is the 90 seconds between half innings. A catcher who is running the bases when a final out is made will need to show some true hustle in order to be ready to receive the next pitch on time.
Time limits were tested at last year's Southeastern Conference Tournament. However, the clock was kept on the field by the umpire, allowing common sense to prevail when it was clear that there was no intent to delay the game. Now, the clock will be on the scoreboard, so discretion will have no role.
As a first baseman and relief pitcher, Braden Kapteyn agrees that the 20-second clock will not be a problem. The bats should have a major impact, though.
"You'll see a bit less home runs, I think. They'll still fly out, but you have to get squared up to hit it out," Kapteyn said. "Overall, the bat thing, I think it plays to our advantage.
"I think you are going to see a lot more 'small ball,' utilizing running, stealing bags a lot. That's got to be the name of the game now. You can't live and die by home runs anymore."
The Cats see their bread-and-butter as pitching, defense and speed.
Taylor Black, who last June was drafted in the 28th round by the St. Louis Cardinals, is UK's only returning starter in the infield, at shortstop.
He's noticed the difference a bat makes not only at the plate, but in the field.
"It's kind of weird because some of the bats don't have that same 'ping' like they did last year, and to get a read it's going to be harder defensively," Black said. "But the ball's definitely not coming off near as fast."
Chad Wright, UK's only returning starter in the outfield, says he expects to be playing shallow in left more often than in the past.
"You can play shallower, take away the short balls," he said. "Because if you don't hit it right, then it's not going to carry very far, so you don't have to worry about getting burned, hitting one over your head."
With fewer hits, it stands to reason that fewer runs will be scored.
"The feel is that it's going to be much, much tougher to go get a five spot when you've just given up some (runs)," Henderson said.
"I've never been a guy that was concerned about hitting guys when we were pitching. To me, about a quarter of the time or a third of the time, it's a positive. But I think you're going to have to manage the number of times that you put guys on base with a walk or an HBP. I think you're going to see tighter games."
Now there's something for a batter to smile about.