MLB’s Manfred working on pace of play with Clark, union

  • Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred listens to a question following the two-day meeting of Major League Baseball owners, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) Charles Rex Arbogast

  • Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred responds to a question following the two-day meeting of Major League Baseball owners, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) Charles Rex Arbogast

Associated Press
Published: 8/18/2017 12:29:38 AM

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

Manfred said the Bruce Sherman-led ownership group trying to purchase the Miami Marlins has presented the league with a financial structure that would work for finalizing the deal, and he expressed confidence that a major league franchise can be successful in the market. Speaking at the conclusion of the owners meetings, he also expressed surprise with veteran umpire Joe West’s reaction to his suspension for his comments about Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre.

The average time of a nine-inning game is 3 hours, 5 minutes this season, up from 3 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. The league can implement changes by itself with one-year advance notice.

“We met with Tony Clark and a group of players last week,” Manfred said Thursday. “The tone of those conversations have been very positive. Hats off to Tony and the players on that, and I remain confident that we will have changes for next year on the issue of pace of game 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.

The owners had a light agenda for their quarterly meeting at a hotel in downtown Chicago, and one of the major topics was Sherman’s signed $1.2 billion agreement to purchase the Marlins from Jeffrey Loria. Former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter is a limited partner in the group and will take over Miami’s business and baseball operations if the transaction is approved.

Sherman met with the MLB ownership committee on Wednesday, and the deal could be completed by the end of the season. Manfred brushed aside any concern over reports that the group is seeking more financing.

“The group led by Mr. Sherman has presented us with a financial structure that would allow them to close the transaction consistent with baseball’s rules,” he said. “That doesn’t mean that they might prefer to have additional equity in the deal and might be out there looking for it. But they have a financial structure that would allow them to close the deal consistent with our rules.”


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