SEATTLE -- Commissioner Rob Manfred made his first visit to Safeco Field since Opening Day 2015 (his first year on the job) on Wednesday and said he'd love to return someday for a future All-Star Game, though the competition for those events remains fierce.Under the leadership of Mariners CEO John
SEATTLE -- Commissioner Rob Manfred made his first visit to Safeco Field since Opening Day 2015 (his first year on the job) on Wednesday and said he'd love to return someday for a future All-Star Game, though the competition for those events remains fierce.
Under the leadership of Mariners CEO John Stanton, who took over the club last year, the Mariners have made a presentation to MLB to return the All-Star Game to Seattle for the first time since 2001.
Mr. Stanton "has made me aware that Seattle is interested in an All-Star Game," Manfred said. "I was here the last time we had an All-Star Game here, and it was a great host city. I'd love to do it again. I will say this: We have unprecedented levels of interest in All-Star Games right now. It's really become a fantastic event.
"I think the reinvigoration of the Home Run Derby and the clock has made what always has been a great event an even better event. We have a lot of teams interested, but Seattle certainly would be one of the ones in the mix."
MLB has awarded the 2018 game to Washington, D.C., and the 2019 event to Cleveland. Manfred said he is hoping to announce two or three future All-Star sites this offseason.
Other topics addressed by Manfred:
• In the wake of a young fan being hit by a foul ball at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, Manfred said extending netting to protect fans in different stadiums "remains an ongoing discussion" since guidelines were proposed two years ago.
"What we've done since then is encourage the individual clubs to engage in a localized process, look at their own stadiums -- every stadium is different -- and try to make a good decision about how far the netting should go in order to promote fan safety," he said. "If you look at what's happened, there has been a continuous forward movement in terms of increased netting in stadiums around the leagues, and I expect that process will continue this offseason."
• Young fan injured after being hit by ball in Bronx
• Manfred said there "were some pretty concrete plans about playing in Mexico in 2018." It would be MLB's first international regular-season game since the D-backs and Dodgers opened the 2014 season in Australia.
"We continue to believe an important part of growing the game is taking our regular-season games internationally," he said. "I also think an opening in Japan is another that will be on the board in the relatively near future."
• Regarding the record for most home runs in a season being broken, Manfred said he's confident that MLB has the "best drug-testing program of any sport" and has done independent testing to confirm that some individual baseballs being used are "within their specifications," while acknowledging that individual balls may be different because they remain handmade products.
"I do know our athletes are bigger, stronger and faster, just like athletes in all professional sports. When you have bigger, stronger, faster athletes, the fact you have more home runs is not all that shocking," he said. "And our game is being played differently at the big league level. There's much more tolerance for strikeouts, much more emphasis on hitting home runs, and more importantly, our game is being taught differently to young people, consistent with the way it's being played in the big leagues."
• Pace of play remains an area of focus, and Manfred said there will continue to be a push to reduce "dead time" in the game. He's in favor of the pitch clock that currently is used in the Minor Leagues, would like to regulate the number of mound visits in an inning and have teams do a better job controlling the time between innings.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.