SARASOTA, Fla. — Adley Rutschman called for a pitch, but it wasn’t the one Cole Irvin wanted to throw.

Irvin didn’t simply shake off the call, the way pitchers have done for decades. He pressed one of the small buttons along his belt, and the electronic voice in both of their earpieces softly called out the instruction for the pitch Irvin thought would be best: a two-seam fastball. He planned to run the pitch in on the hands of Philadelphia’s Alec Bohm during a game earlier this month.

It ultimately didn’t work out — Irvin missed on his location and Bohm drove the ball into the outfield for a double — but Irvin still felt good about the exchange.

“I’d rather throw the pitch that I want and get beat doing that because I know I can take accountability for it,” Irvin said. “I still think it was the right pitch, if I got it to location.”

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This spring, Irvin and other members of Baltimore’s pitching staff have more control over their outings than ever before. They’ve been allowed to wear a PitchCom device — a small rectangle with two rows of buttons that can be used to name a pitch selection and location — on their glove or belt. This allows them to send messages to a small microphone in their catcher’s ear, creating a two-way dialogue in the middle of at-bats.

In 2022, PitchCom was introduced to catchers only, giving them the ability to ditch traditional hand signs. But with the addition of a pitch clock, there’s more emphasis on speeding up the pitcher-catcher interaction.

The PitchCom system, then, gives pitchers the chance to tell the catcher exactly what they want to throw. And for those using it inside Baltimore’s pitching staff, the reviews are positive — even if a missed spot on a self-called pitch led to a double.

“It allows the pitcher to communicate to the catcher differently than they ever have before,” catcher James McCann said. “With the clock, there’s not really time to shake multiple times. It kind of gives the pitcher the option to, instead of shaking three times, just push the button for the pitch I want to throw here. I think it’s an important part of beating the pitch clock, per se.”

In the Orioles clubhouse, there are few pitchers who have fully embraced the new PitchCom system. Irvin is one, as well as right-handers Kyle Gibson and Kyle Bradish. Others, such as right-hander Tyler Wells, experimented with the new PitchCom system on their belts or gloves during practice sessions but haven’t incorporated it to games.

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Major League Baseball has not yet approved the new system for the regular season, although Gibson expects it to.

An industry source with direct knowledge of the situation said Major League Baseball is still reviewing and collecting feedback from players and umpires before reaching a decision on whether to implement PitchCom on pitchers as well as catchers.

The advantages, especially for experienced pitchers, are evident.

The introduction of the pitch clock requires sequencing decisions to be made more quickly. A pitcher has 15 seconds to throw a pitch with bases empty, and 20 seconds with runners on. In the past, when at an impasse with a catcher over a sign, pitchers would step off and reset. But with the pitch clock, a step off doesn’t reset the clock, almost always resulting in a violation.

“I’d rather have the pitch I want ready. If they don’t call it, then we go right to it,” Gibson said. “That’s gonna be the best way for me to make it, especially with nobody on, to make that 15 seconds. Because if I’m sitting there shaking, and they’re thinking, and I’m thinking, and they’re thinking, and I’m thinking, then we’re going to get down to three or four seconds a lot.”

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Wells ran into that issue earlier this spring. When he peeked at the pitch clock and saw it was down to five seconds, he accepted a pitch call he wasn’t entirely comfortable with. It wound up as a homer, when Atlanta Braves outfielder Michael Harris II jumped all over a cutter left over the middle.

Irvin uses the PitchCom system to avoid those situations entirely.

“Shaking isn’t ideal now,” Irvin said. “It really isn’t. If you’re not on the same page with the catcher and you’re half-hearted with a pitch, and you’re shaking and you have five seconds left and you just have to throw that last pitch that’s called, it’s not ideal. That’s not what you want. That’s danger zone.”

Even then, though, Wells doesn’t feel comfortable incorporating the PitchCom system onto his belt or glove, wary of whether opponents might pick up on a pattern.

“Them seeing that I’m going to it, maybe I fall into a pattern,” Wells said. “It could be a simple way where, if I go to it every time, it could be slider in an 0-2 count, 2-2 count. If I’m going to it and it’s an off-speed pitch in general, they could be sitting that. Maybe that is far-fetched. But to me, the fact it’s exposed, I don’t necessarily like it.”

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Gibson and Wells have thought about the possibility opponents might see the buttons they click and figure out which one belongs to which pitch. They’ve also found an answer.

With the PitchCom on Irvin’s belt, he can cover the buttons with his glove while he clicks them. Gibson hides his glove near his chest while he clicks the buttons. And with Velcro, they can reattach the buttons upside-down, throwing off any peeking eyes.

Plus, there’s the benefit of picking up on what a hitter might not be ready for. McCann said he and a pitcher might decide before a game to stay away from a certain pitch, but with two quick outs, the pitcher might feel safe enough to throw one in the dirt.

“Catcher may not be thinking that, because we just talked about us not using that,” McCann said. “It kind of opens up that line of communication so now it’s not just the catcher, his suggestion being the only communication. It’s two-way.”

As McCann and Rutschman get to know Irvin and Gibson, two offseason acquisitions expected to be in the starting rotation, the PitchCom system is a useful way for each backstop to learn the sequencing each pitcher favors.

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The catchers still call the whole game; the pitchers can just more easily offer a recommendation if the opinions vary.

And by the end of the game, when the starting pitcher stands in front of his locker answering questions from the assembled reporters, Gibson would rather have a real explanation for why he threw a certain pitch in a particular situation — and not have to say he was beholden to a pitch clock that’s expiring, forcing him to throw something he didn’t agree with.

“If I give up the homer with a guy on first and second and two outs on a two-strike pitch, [the catcher is] not going to get asked about that in the media. I am,” Gibson said. “I have to answer why I threw a specific pitch, and I’m not going to be a guy who says, ‘Well, that’s what we threw down.’ I’m going to have a reason.”

The PitchCom on his glove ensures that, on every offering, he’s had his say and can own his decision.