MLB, union dis­cussing pace of play

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS -

Ma­jor League Base­ball is hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions with the play­ers as­so­ci­a­tion over pos­si­ble rule changes de­signed to speed up the pace of play, and Com­mis­sioner Rob Man­fred said Thurs­day he hopes to reach an agree­ment in­stead of im­ple­ment­ing any mea­sures uni­lat­er­ally.

Man­fred spoke at the con­clu­sion of the own­ers’ quar­terly meet­ing in Chicago. Also ad­dressed were the Mar­lins’ im­pend­ing own­er­ship change and the sus­pen­sion of um­pire Joe West for his re­cent com­ments about Rangers third base­man Adrian Bel­tre.

The av­er­age time of a nine- in­ning game this sea­son is a record 3 hours, 5 min­utes, up from three hours last year and 2:56 in 2015, Man­fred’s first sea­son as com­mis­sioner.

Man­age­ment pro­posed mak­ing changes for this year, such as in­stalling pitch clocks and lim­it­ing trips to the mound by catch­ers, but play­ers as­so­ci­a­tion head Tony Clark said his side would not agree to the changes.

MLB can im­ple­ment changes by it­self with a one-year ad­vance no­tice.

“We met with Tony Clark and a group of play­ers last week,” Man­fred said. “The tone of those con­ver­sa­tions (has) been very pos­i­tive.

“I re­main con­fi­dent that we will have changes for next year on the is­sue of pace that will be sig­nif­i­cant.”

Man­fred de­clined to get into any specifics about pos­si­ble changes or what the league might do if it is un­able to reach a deal with the union.

“I think the best course for base­ball — and by that I mean the clubs and the play­ers — is for us to get an agree­ment,” he said.

A mes­sage was left Thurs­day seek­ing com­ment from the play­ers as­so­ci­a­tion.

Re­gard­ing the sale of the Mar­lins, Man­fred said MLB was pre­sented with a fi­nan­cial struc­ture by the Bruce Sher­man-led group that would fi­nal­ize a deal with cur­rent owner Jeffrey Lo­ria.

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