As the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs get ready to begin Eastern League play this week, keep in mind that minor league baseball will play under many of the new rules that MLB wants to implement - rules intended to speed up the game.

For instance, when you go to Hadlock Field in Portland for a Sea Dogs game your stay may be a bit shorter.

You will notice each pitcher must face three consecutive batters.

Mound visits at Double-A have been cut from eight down to seven.

And, if the game is tied at the end of regulation, each extra inning begins with a batter and second base.

Check out the details here...

PITCHERS TO FACE MINIMUM OF THREE BATTERS

- At the Triple-A and Double-A levels, the starting pitcher or any substitute pitcher is required to pitch to a minimum of three consecutive batters, including the batter then at bat (or any substitute batter), until such batters are put out or reach first base, or until the offensive team is put out, unless the starting pitcher or substitute pitcher sustains injury or illness which, in the umpire-in-chief's judgment, incapacitates him from further play as a pitcher.

EXTRA INNINGS RUNNER ON SECOND BASE REVISION

- At all levels of Minor League Baseball, extra innings will begin with a runner on second base. If the last batter of the previous inning was the pitcher, the player to occupy second base to start the following inning will be the player in the batting order before the pitcher's spot in the lineup. By way of example, if the pitcher bats in the eighth position and the number nine hitter in the batting order is due to lead off the 10th inning, the number seven player in the batting order (or a pinch-runner for such player) shall begin the inning on second base. Any runner or batter removed from the game for a substitute shall be ineligible to return to the game, as is the case in all circumstances under the Official Baseball Rules.

PITCHER'S MOUND VISITS

- Visits by coaches and position players will be limited based on the classification level. Triple-A teams will be allowed five (5) visits per team (down from six), Double-A teams will be allowed seven (7) visits per team (down from eight), Single-A teams will be allowed nine (9) visits per team (down from 10) and there will not be a limit on mound visits for Short Season and Rookie-level clubs.

- For any extra-innings played, each club shall be entitled to one additional non-pitching change mound visit per inning.

- Official Baseball Rule 5.10(l), which governs mound visits by a manager or coach, remains in effect (i.e., a pitcher must be removed on the second visit by a manager/coach in an inning).

NOTE: Sea Dogs opening day is Thursday. The Dogs play the Reading Fightin Phils at 6pm.