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The implementation of MLB's pitch clock and other rules in the 2023 season have, by most accounts, been pretty successful across the board. Still, there's always an adjustment period, and one thing that has seemed a bit odd with the pitch clock is the lack of allowance for a crowd ovation. 

Specifically, situations where there's a predictable and prolonged ovation by the fans in which it's long been standard for a player to step out of the batter's box or off the pitcher's rubber to give a hat tip and acknowledge the ovation from the paying customers. 

An example of this came earlier this season when the Dodgers fans gave former Dodger and current Cub Cody Bellinger an ovation. He stepped out to take it all in for a quick second and was nailed with a violation and automatic strike

The funny thing is, you can tell Bellinger knew he couldn't take too much time outside the box. It was just a quick step out and he still got hit. 

As a result of this and a few other situations, MLB has implemented a system where teams can formally apply for exemptions to the pitch clock in cases where a player is expected to have a large crowd reaction. 

With Phillies superstar Bryce Harper having returned from Tommy John surgery in record time, he'll be playing in front of the Philadelphia fans for the first time in 2023 on Friday. The Phillies have submitted their request for a clock exemption for his first plate appearance in the game against the Red Sox, The Athletic reports. 

In looking at the case of Harper and the clock, there are further circumstances at work. Remember, he's coming off reconstructive surgery to his elbow. When he gets on base, he's going to be wearing a large brace to protect against rupturing his elbow on a slide. We saw it for the first time Wednesday when he got on base five times. He only wore the brace four times, because he was unable to get it on in time (before the next batter needed to get in the box to avoid a timer violation) the fifth time he was on. He ended up running the bases without the brace that time. 

Bryce Harper has been wearing a large elbow brace on the base paths after his return from Tommy John surgery. Getty Images

The Phillies obviously have concerns, via The Athletic

"That scared me a little bit," [manager Rob] Thomson said. "Really, they should amend the rule to a certain degree for anybody that has an issue. Just give them extra time. Have a feel for it, so they're not going to injure themselves."

"I mean, we talked all the way up to Mr. Manfred and they said we wouldn't have more time to do that," Harper said. "Pace of play thing, of course. It's going to be tough. … Sometimes it gets jammed or caught. I hope maybe some umpires have some feel about it. Some umpires usually do. I appreciate that out of them. But we'll see. I know they're going to try to give me extra time. I want to be able to get it on and get it going."

As for the league response, it offered up the following: 

"MLB does not make exceptions to the playing rules for individual players. The league consulted multiple orthopedists and athletic trainers before deciding on the current policy, which is that players are free to wear protective equipment while running the bases, provided they put it on within the proper time frames."  

As with any new rule, there is always an adjustment period. Sometimes it seems like it's too rigid, but there's always the slippery slope theory to consider. "If we give Bryce Harper extra time, where does it ever end?" the theory would read. 

Hopefully there's a sweet spot somewhere in here -- one that doesn't require one of the league's most marketable stars getting injured because the league didn't want to allow him an extra few seconds to put a brace over a spot on his body that was just repaired with major surgery.