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Boston Red Sox second baseman Trevor Story watches the flight of his bases clearing three-run double to put the Red Sox up 10-6 against the New York Yankees. The Red Sox will be sticking with their traditional 7:10 p.m. start times for midweek night games in 2023.

Though a number of competitors have switched to earlier starts for night games, the Boston Red Sox will keep 7:10 p.m. as their standard first pitch time for weekday games, the club confirmed Tuesday.

According to a Red Sox spokesperson, the default start times for 2023 will be 7:10 p.m. on weekdays, 4:10 p.m. on Saturdays and 1:35 p.m. on Sundays, all of which are in line with the club’s previous starts the past two seasons.

While not all game times have been finalized, there will be three dates where the club plans to try an earlier 6:10 p.m. start time for midweek night games. Those will take place on Thursday, May 4 against Toronto, Thursday, June 29 against Miami and Wednesday, Sept. 27 against Tampa Bay.

There have also been two midweek, non-holiday day games confirmed as well, which will both start at 1:35 p.m. Those will be Wednesday, April 5 against Pittsburgh and Thursday, April 20 against Minnesota.

The question of whether or not the Red Sox would switch to earlier night starts is one clubs across MLB have grappled with in recent years. Several clubs, including the Colorado Rockies, Cincinnati Reds and Minnesota Twins, have moved to 6:40 p.m. starts in response to ever-increasing game times that have often resulted in games not finishing until well after 10 p.m.

The Seattle Mariners, Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays are soon expected to join that club, with all three announcing this month they will start many of their home games at 6:40 or 6:45 p.m. in 2023 after successful pilot programs last year.

During the club’s year-end press conference, Red Sox CEO Sam Kennedy confirmed that the club was exploring different start times and had discussed the issue with players, baseball operations and other key stakeholders.

There are pros and cons to both approaches. An earlier start time makes it easier for fans who have to wake up early for school or work the next morning to stay for the whole game. The downside is it also leaves less time for fans coming from work to make their way to the park, and it could also impact the club’s pre-game preparation.

Another factor that could alter the calculus for clubs league-wide is the imminent arrival of baseball’s new pace-of-play rule changes, particularly the pitch clock. The pitch clock had a dramatic effect on game length in the minors this past season, reducing the average nine-inning game time by 26 minutes from 3:04 in 2021 to 2:38 in 2022.

If the clock has a similar effect in the majors next season, then most Red Sox night games could be over by close to 9:30 even with the current 7:10 start, something that has happened only a small handful of times per season in recent years.

Email: mcerullo@northofboston.com.

Twitter: @MacCerullo.

 

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