Manfred says MLB to push forward with process for unilateral rule changes
Feb 22, 2017 The Japan Times

PHOENIX AP Major League Baseball intends to push forward with the process that could lead to possible rule changes involving the strike zone, installation of pitch clocks and limits on trips to the pitchers moundWhile baseball commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope the ongoing process would lead to an agreement, he said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sports labor contractUnion head Tony Clark said last weekend he did not foresee players agreeing to proposed changes for 2017. Under baseballs collective bargaining agreement, management can alter playing rules only with agreement from the union unless it gives one year notice. With the one year of notice, management can make changes on its ownUnfortunately it now appears that there really wont be any meaningful change for the 2017 season due to a lack of cooperation from the MLBPA, Manfred said Tuesday during a news conference. Ive tried to be clear that our game is fundamentally sound, that it does not need to be fixed as some people have suggested, and I think last season was the kind of demonstration of the potential of our league to captivate the nation and of the games unique place in American cultureYet, he also added: I believe its a mistake to stick our head in the sand and ignore the fact that our game has changed and continues to changeManfred said while he prefers an agreement, Im also not willing to walk away. He said he will send a letter to the union in the coming days and plans to continue dialogue with Clark and others in hopes of reaching agreementClark met with Cactus League teams last week, five at a time over Thursday, Friday and Saturday, before departing Monday for Florida to visit each Grapefruit League club and proposed rules changes were a topicI have great respect for the labor relations process, and I have a pretty good track record for getting things done with the MLBPA, Manfred said. I have to admit, however, that I am disappointed that we could not even get the MLBPA to agree to modest rule changes like limits on trips to the mound that have little effect on the competitive character of the gameClark saw talks differentlyUnless your definition of cooperation is blanket approval, I dont agree that weve failed to cooperate with the commissioners office on these issues, he wrote in an email to AP. Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this offseason weve been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened. I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB dont continue, notwithstanding todays comments about implementation. As Ive said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain openClark added my understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2-minute limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of game warning/fine adjustmentsManfred said he didnt want to share specifics of his priorities for alterationsTheres a variety of changes that can be undertaken, Manfred said. Im committed to the idea that we have a set of proposals out there and we continue to discuss those proposals in privateMLB has studied whether to restore the lower edge of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level at the top of the kneecap. Management would like to install 20-second pitch clocks in an attempt to speed the pace of play they have been used at Triple-A and Double-A for the past two seasonsPlayers also have been against limiting mound meetings. The least controversial change appears to be allowing a team to call for an intentional walk without the pitcher having to throw pitches. In addition, MLB likely can alter some video review rules without the unions agreement such as shortening the time a manager has to call for a reviewMost of this stuff that they were talking about I dont think it would have been a major adjustment for us, Royals manager Ned Yost saidManfred said starting runners on second base in extra innings sounds unlikely to be implemented in the majors. The change will be experimented with during the World Baseball Classic and perhaps at some short-season Class A leagues. Manfred said it was a special-purpose rule beneficial in developmental leaguesManfred also said Tuesday that a renovated Wrigley Field would be a great choice to host an All-Star Game and Las Vegas could be a viable market for usI dont think that the presence of legalized gambling in Las Vegas should necessarily disqualify that market as a potential major league city, Manfred saidrn