KBO Umpires Gear Up for New Technology with Training Camp

SEOUL, - The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) has announced that its umpires are participating in a winter training camp this week to prepare for the introduction of a pitch clock and the automated ball-strike system (ABS), set to be implemented in 2024.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the training camp, which began on Monday and runs until Friday, is being held at the Doosan Bears' minor league park in Icheon, Gyeonggi Province. The ABS, often referred to as "robot umpires," employs a tracking system to identify balls and strikes, with the call relayed to the home plate umpire via an earpiece.

The KBO is also adopting the pitch clock, following Major League Baseball's (MLB) lead. In 2023, MLB established a 15-second timer for pitchers without runners on base and a 20-second timer with runners aboard, reducing the average time of a nine-inning game by 24 minutes compared to 2022. This change resulted in games as short as 2 hours and 30 minutes during the season.

In contrast, the average duration of a nine-inning game in the KBO was 3 hours and 12 minutes in 2023, an increase from the previous season.

During the camp, umpires are focusing on adapting to the earpiece and walkie-talkie required for the ABS and conducting simulated games to prepare for potential issues. They are also working on communication protocols with pitch clock operators, responsible for managing the countdowns during games.

KBO Commissioner Heo Koo-youn visited the camp in Icheon on Wednesday to gather feedback from the umpires about these technological changes, as reported by the league office.

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