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Manfred: MLB to look at rules for middle infielders

KANSAS CITY -- Commissioner Rob Manfred, speaking before the Royals' 7-2 win over the Astros in Wednesday night's Game 5 clincher of the American League Division Series at Kauffman Stadium, said his office will take a look at whether there should be an adjustment to the rules to provide more protection for middle fielders from players sliding into second base.

Manfred's comments come in the aftermath of Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley getting suspended two games after a slide that broke the right leg of Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada in Game 2 of the National League Division Series on Saturday night. Last month, Pirates shortstop Jung Ho Kang suffered a torn left knee ligament on a slide by Chris Coghlan of the Cubs.

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"You had two incidents this year that provide a pretty good suggestion that maybe it's at least worth taking a look at whether we need a little different rule than what we've been using," Manfred said. "We'll take a look at the rule and talk about changes and enforcement, and that's easier because you don't have to bargain it. But my own thinking is a nice, clear, simple rule would probably be an improvement for the game."

Manfred, who watched the Cubs defeat the Cardinals in Game 4 in Chicago on Tuesday to clinch their NLDS, is thrilled to see three of the four Division Series go the distance.

"It's obviously great for the game," he said. "We're excited for all the Game 5s."

When asked specifically about the success of the upstart Astros, Manfred said they bring a freshness to the playoffs.

"Look, I think the Astros are what keeps fans in all of our markets interested in the game," Manfred said. "They had some tough years, they had a plan, they stuck to the plan and they just played absolutely great this year, and the city's turned out to support them as a result."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.