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Manfred: Pace-of-play changes coming in '18

MLB.com @castrovince

ST. PETERSBURG -- Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke Thursday about rule changes aimed at improving pace of play for the 2018 season.

Without revealing specifics, Manfred said MLB is prepared to make pace-of-play changes, whether that is pursuant to an agreement with the Major League Baseball Players Association or through Baseball's Collective Bargaining Agreement. Any changes will be announced before the start of Spring Training exhibition games later this month.

ST. PETERSBURG -- Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke Thursday about rule changes aimed at improving pace of play for the 2018 season.

Without revealing specifics, Manfred said MLB is prepared to make pace-of-play changes, whether that is pursuant to an agreement with the Major League Baseball Players Association or through Baseball's Collective Bargaining Agreement. Any changes will be announced before the start of Spring Training exhibition games later this month.

"I don't see anything that should be a labor relations negative over the long haul," Manfred said. "We have gone out of our way to solicit player input. We've delayed taking any action. We've made clear that our strong preference was to have an agreement with the players. In fact, we have significantly altered substantive positions based on input from players. That's the bargaining process. It really shouldn't be a negative."

The players' union recently rejected an MLB proposal regarding pace-of-play rules, which included a pitch clock and limitations on catchers' mound visits per inning. Baseball's Collective Bargaining Agreement permits MLB to impose on-field changes unilaterally when at least one year of notice is given to the union, and MLB initiated that process early in 2017.

"We feel our emphasis should be on downtime," Manfred said. "I am hopeful the changes we make directed at downtime will eventually get us into a spot where we're comfortable with pace of play and the length of the game. But if not, there can be conversations about other types of changes that might go beyond downtime."

Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns, listen to his podcasts and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.