A modern solution to an age-old issue

One thing MLB can do to improve the pace of the play is cut back on the catcher trips to the mound. AP Photo/Kathy Willens

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- A couple of interesting side notes heard while making the rounds in camps this spring:

1. As Major League Baseball searches for ways to speed up the pace of play, a technological implementation could create a way for the sport to seamlessly bypass the laborious process of exchanging signs.

This currently can be an issue when a runner reaches second base, especially in the later innings. The pitcher looks to the catcher, who makes a hand gesture to indicate what sequence of signs he'll refer to. The pitcher then steps off and glances back at the runner, who is trying to discern what the pitch will be so he can relay that information to the batter. The catcher then strolls out to the mound so he can verbally convey -- talking with his glove over his mouth -- the signs to the pitcher, as well as the shortstop and/or second baseman, who also want to know what's happening.

After the plate umpire walks out to tell the pitcher and everybody else to hurry up, and after the catcher returns to his position, he'll squat down and glance toward the dugout, where his manager will flash a series of signs that the catcher will then relay to the infielders before giving more signs to the pitcher. And if there's any confusion, the catcher will visit the mound again.

A rival evaluator estimated that Jose Molina, the former Rays catcher, would average about 11 visits to the mound during the course of a game. This assessment was not meant as a criticism of Molina; rather, it's an example of how detailed catchers, pitchers and managers have become about signs, sometimes slowing games dramatically.