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The Journal Gazette

Friday, May 19, 2017 1:00 am

MLB games getting slower

Manfred wants to talk more on pace of the game

Associated Press

NEW YORK – Even talks to speed the pace of Major League Baseball games are going slowly.

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said management will speak some more with the players' association before deciding whether to push ahead with initiatives to speed games in 2018.

The average time of a nine-inning game is a record 3 hours, 5 minutes this season, up from 3 hours last year and 2:56 in 2015, Manfred's first season as commissioner.

“We've probably gone backwards a little bit,” Manfred said Thursday after an owners' meeting.

MLB made proposals last offseason that players refused to accept for 2017, but management can unilaterally implement them for 2018. They include a pitch clock, limits on visits to the pitcher's mound by catchers and restoring the lower edge of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level at the top of the kneecap.

Union head Tony Clark and his members agreed to only one of the proposed changes for 2017: pitchless intentional walks.

“We've had extensive conversations with Tony about a process for putting a series of meetings together to try to advance the ball on the pace-of-game issues,” Manfred said. “We remain committed to the idea ... there are things that can be done to try to improve on the pace-of-game topic. And we will continue to purse that agenda with Tony over the course of the season.”

Manfred also addressed the sale of the Miami Marlins.

“There are two bidders, at least, for the franchise. The bidders are in relatively the same place in terms of price, maybe minuscule differences, and they are in fact in the price range that (owner Jeffrey) Loria was looking for,” Manfred said.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush leads one group, which includes former New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter, who would head the team's baseball operations. The other group is led by businessman Tagg Romney, son of former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, and includes Hall of Famer Tom Glavine.