Bryant favors traditional intentional-walk rule

Cubs' MVP prefers forcing pitchers to throw four balls

Bryant favors traditional intentional-walk rule

MESA, Ariz. -- In the 10th inning of Game 7 of the World Series, the Cubs had a runner at second and one out, and the Indians opted to intentionally walk Anthony Rizzo to face Ben Zobrist. Zobrist came through with a go-ahead double, and Rizzo eventually scored. What Kris Bryant wanted to know was, what if one of Bryan Shaw's four pitches during that intentional walk had skipped away, allowing the runner to move up?

"What if the ball got away?" Bryant said Wednesday. "That's huge, especially in that type of situation, Game 7 of the World Series, you want to put pressure on the pitcher any way you can."

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that an automatic intentional walk could be a rule change this season. MLB is trying to speed up the pace of play.

"I've had some guys in the past who don't like to do that, they don't like to throw the four pitches," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Wednesday. "There's a threat that a guy just can't do that and you can benefit from it offensively. By the same token, if you have a guy on the mound who doesn't like to do it, I like it because he doesn't have to go through the angst of the four pitches. I don't think it has that much of an impact on the game. I have no really strong opinion about it."

In high school, Bryant said batters would automatically be awarded first base without the pitcher having to throw a pitch. Bryant doesn't think the pace of play needs changing.

"The real fans are going to the game and they don't care [how long it is]," he said. "If it's the bottom of the ninth and the game is 10-0, fans will leave just because [of the score]. I'm fine with it. If there's a long pitching change, it gives me time to space out at third and regroup."

Bryant focused, ready to compete

Bryant wasn't sure about altering play, especially when he considered the 10th inning of the World Series.

"That's history right there," Bryant said. "I like to force guys to make a pitch. You're in the box, you want to force someone to make a pitch. A pitch is [part of] an intentional walk."

Maddon said he doesn't really understand why pace of play is an issue.

"I'm just locked into managing the game," Maddon said. "The nine innings go 2 hours, 15 minutes or 3 hours and 20 [minutes] -- as long as you win, I don't care."

Major League games aren't too long for Bryant.

"It's an experience," he said. "You want the hot dogs, you want to be with your family, you want to make the most of how much you spend on your tickets. I think the real fans don't really care about [length of the game]. I don't see that [as a problem]. I don't make the rules."

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.