Manfred discusses player safety, pace of play

Manfred discusses player safety, pace of play

NEW YORK -- Prior to Wednesday night's National League Wild Card Game between the Giants and Mets at Citi Field, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred discussed the replay system, pace of play and concerns about the fan incident during Tuesday's American League Wild Card Game in Toronto.

In the seventh inning of Toronto's 5-2, 11-inning win, Orioles left fielder Hyun Soo Kim was nearly hit with a canned beverage as he caught Blue Jays outfielder Melvin Upton Jr.'s fly ball for the final out. The unidentified fan who threw the can avoided authorities before exiting Rogers Centre, which has hosted a raucous fan base during both of the past two postseasons.

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"I think most importantly, we are working very hard to locate the individual involved," Manfred said. "From a deterrent perspective, it is very important to follow up and make sure he is prosecuted to the extent possible. We've talked to the Blue Jays about a modified set of policies with respect to the serving of alcohol with no cans and those sorts of things to make sure we have as positive an environment going forward as possible."

Manfred on NLWC, player safety

When asked about making the designated hitter uniform in both the NL and AL, Manfred said he could list at least 10 other issues that he views as being more important and beneficial. Initiatives intended to improve pace of play bore fruit during the 2015 season, however there was an uptick in average game time in 2016.

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"Last year, the [average] game time came down a little bit, but we had a lot of rule changes -- the batter's box rule and the inning clock, which served to keep things at the front of the players' minds, and the players were tremendously cooperative," Manfred said. "I think because we didn't have those same sorts of changes this year, we slipped back a little bit, and we need to refocus our efforts."

Manfred on replays

With pace of play a primary concern, Manfred remains committed to making sure managers are given a limited amount of time in which to decide whether to challenge a play. This concern did not apply to what transpired in St. Louis last Thursday, when the Cardinals won a game on a walk-off ground-rule double that might have been reversed had the Reds issued a challenge in a timely manner. But Manfred made it clear he was fine with the outcome, because the replay rule clearly states that a manager must immediately issue a challenge on a game-ending play. If a team has used its challenges, umpires have the right to call for a replay.

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"When we rolled replay out, we never said we would get every single call correct," Manfred said. "That is not an achievable goal. There are going to be parameters that surround the replay rules that balance our desire to get calls right against the need to actually complete games in less than seven hours. You have to balance that natural desire to get it right with the practicalities of keeping the game moving."

Manfred also hopes to finalize the next Collective Bargaining Agreement within the next few weeks, preferably before the free-agent market opens -- five days after the conclusion of the World Series.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.