DENVER — Banning or limiting defensive shifts would be an effort to restore Major League Baseball to how it was played before offense was suffocated by analytics, according to baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred.

Speaking before Tuesday’s All-Star Game to the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, Manfred said seven-inning doubleheaders and starting extra innings with runners on second base likely will be dropped after this season.

He said extending the designated hitter to the National League could be possible, but not definite.

“I think it would be a non-radical change, but I’m not going to speculate on whether we’re going to propose it or get it,” he said.

Manfred said MLB was considering having umpires explain video review decisions to fans at ballparks over the public-address system, similar to the procedure in the NFL.

MLB’s collective bargaining agreement with the players’ association expires Dec. 1.

“Let’s just say you regulated the shift by requiring two infielders each side of second base. What does that do? It makes the game look like what it looked like when I was 12 years old,” he said. “It’s not change. It’s kind of restoration, right? That’s why people are in favor of it. And they do believe, I think front offices in general believe it would have a positive effect on the play of the game.

“So I’m hopeful without going into the specifics of rule by rule, that we will have productive conversations with the MLBPA about – I want to use my words – non-radical changes to the game that will restore it to being played in a way that is closer to I think what many of us enjoy historically.

“Remember, the game evolves, right? What we play today don’t look all that much like 1971. And the question is, which version would you like to get to?”

MLB is trying an experiment this year at Double-A requiring infielders to keep both feet within the outer boundary of the infield dirt at the start of every play, but not preventing three or more defenders to either side of second base. Triple-A is using 18-by-18-inch bases rather than the traditional 15-by-15-inch.

Management has the right to change major league playing rules with an agreement with the union, or MLB can implement changes unilaterally with one year of advance notice.

Manfred has been reluctant to change playing rules absent an agreement.

“We’re hopeful that in the context of the CBA negotiations, we will find more receptivity than we have found to date,” Manfred said.

Seven-inning doubleheaders and the extra-inning runners were adopted for the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and kept for 2021.

“I see the extra-inning rule and the seven-inning doubleheader as rules that were adopted based on medical advice to deal with COVID,” Manfred said. “I think they are much less likely to become part of our permanent landscape than some of the other rules that we’ve talked about over time that relate to sort of how the game’s being played.”

Some fans have felt short-changed when they paid full price for tickets for separate-admission games as part of seven-inning doubleheaders.

“At the point in time we adopted seven-inning doubleheaders for this year, we didn’t know that the country was going to look like it looks right now,” Manfred said. “As a matter of fact, we were really scared that it was going to look very, very differently. If I knew it was going to be like this, might we have done different rules? Maybe.

“And again, last year when we used them because there were no fans, they were traditional doubleheaders. Given that the rule’s in place, it’s hard to change it midstream because of the competitive impacts. And given the demand we have for the tickets that are available, we kind of think splits are making the best out of a bad situation. But believe me, I understand it’s not perfect from the fans’ perspective and we’re worried about that.”

Manfred said the crackdown on the use of foreign substances on balls had been a success since umpires started checking all pitchers on June 21.

“I think the substance checks have been an important step forward for the game,” he said. “I think that enforcing our rules is really important. They’re on the books. They should be enforced. Equally important, I think that the process has already shown very promising effects in terms of the play of the game on the field: batting average, slugging percentage, all those offensive categories have improved. Strikeouts are down. Base on balls are down. We have not seen any material increase in players being hit by pitches. Those are all huge positives for us.”

He said the crackdown “is a step along the road to a return to a more entertaining form of baseball.”

RED SOX: All-Star closer Matt Barnes is guaranteed $18.75 million as part of his new contract with the Boston Red Sox covering 2022 and 2023.

Barnes has a $4.5 million salary this season and would have been eligible for free agency after the World Series.

He gets a $1.75 million signing bonus, payable this July 31, as part of the deal announced Sunday, and salaries of $7.25 million next season and $7.5 million in 2023. The Red Sox have an $8 million option for 2024 with a $2.25 million buyout.

His 2024 salary could increase to $9 million based on games finished in 2022 and 2023: $250,000 each for 40, 45, 50 and 55.

In addition, if he is traded before the fifth day after the 2023 World Series, the option price would increase by $1 million and the buyout by $500,000.

Barnes will contribute 1% of his earnings each year to the Red Sox Foundation or continue to host an annual charity event with the foundation.

The 31-year-old is 4-2 with a 2.68 ERA and has 19 saves in 23 chances this season. He is a first-time All-Star, among five Boston players picked for Tuesday’s game.

Barnes has spent his entire career with Boston, which selected him No. 19 overall in the 2011 amateur draft from UConn.

DRAFT: Mike Trout has helped the Los Angeles Angels score a lot of runs over the years. Preventing them has been a bigger issue.

LA’s scouting department is going all out to solve that problem.

The Angels became the first club ever to select exclusively pitchers over a full amateur draft this week when they took 20 straight pitchers. The arms race began with Miami (Ohio) right-hander Sam Bachman at No. 9 overall Sunday and ended with TCU righty Marcelo Perez in the 20th round on Tuesday.

Scouting director Matt Swanson said the team expected to go heavy on pitching in the draft, knowing it was an area of need in the organization. He didn’t expect them to forego position players entirely, though.

“You can never have enough pitching,” Swanson said. “It’s a good problem to have.”

t full health, Los Angeles’ lineup is loaded with stars, including Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Jared Walsh and Anthony Rendon. The rotation – aside from two-way phenom Ohtani – not so much.

Trout has won three MVP awards but only been to the postseason once since debuting in 2011. The Angels’ pitching is a prime reason why.

The club last appeared in the playoffs in 2014. Since then, Los Angeles pitchers have a 4.49 ERA, and their 61.9 combined Wins Above Replacement (per FanGraphs) ranks 29th out of 30 teams spanning 2015-21.

The Miami Marlins picked only pitchers in last year’s five-round draft, which was drastically shortened by Major League Baseball after the coronavirus pandemic wiped out nearly all amateur and minor league ball. The draft had been 40 rounds prior to that, but even then, no team had taken a pitcher with every pick through the first 20 rounds.

Nineteen of the pitchers selected by Los Angeles came from college, with 12th-rounder Mason Albright from IMG Academy in Florida the only prep arm. That means reinforcements could be close for a club with a 4.89 ERA this season, 26th in the majors.

“This group of pitchers is going to be in an awesome situation to thrive really quick out the door and hopefully impact the upper levels in short order, and you never know, but hopefully in Anaheim sooner or later,” Swanson said.

Several other teams also stocked up on arms. The Los Angeles Dodgers took pitchers with their first 15 picks before sprinkling in position players in the 16th and 18th rounds. The Cleveland Indians ended up with 19 pitchers out of 21 picks.

The Astros got perhaps the most famous name on Day 3 with Liberty second baseman Will Wagner, the son of former Houston closer Billy Wagner. The elder Wagner is the franchise’s career saves leader at 225, and the younger hit .333 with seven homers this spring.

A day after New York native Jacob Steinmetz became the first known practicing Orthodox Jewish player selected, the Nationals selected a Jewish player who observes the Sabbath in catcher Elie Kligman from Las Vegas. Steinmetz was taken in the third round by the Arizona Diamondbacks, and Kligman went to Washington in the 20th round.

Steinmetz is a right-handed pitcher who plays on the Sabbath, but he walks to games on those days to avoid taking transportation. He also eats only Kosher food.

Kligman told the Jewish Telegraph Agency in April that he won’t play between sundown Friday and sundown Saturday, but that he didn’t think it had to hinder his baseball career.

“Most guys don’t play 162 games a year. If I’m a catcher, not playing three days in the week or two days in the week is pretty normal, so I don’t think it would be that different from other guys,” he said. “I would just be missing different days.”

No Orthodox Jewish player has played in the major leagues.

Good news for Dabo Swinney: the Clemson football coach is likely to get quarterback/wide receiver commit Will Taylor to campus after the two-sport star fell all the way to the 19th round to Texas. The Rangers are unlikely to have the bonus pool space needed to sign the outfielder away from campus.

Another Clemson quarterback commit, Bubba Chandler, was taken as a right-handed pitcher by Pittsburgh in the third round and said he plans to sign.

Connecticut shortstop Michael Sirota, great-nephew of Yankees Hall of Famer Whitey Ford, was taken by the Dodgers in the 16th round.

The Milwaukee Brewers finished their draft with an unusual pick – 28-year-old junior college right-hander Samuel Mendez. A former semipro basketball player in the Dominican Republic, Mendez gave pitching a try at Cisco College in Texas and struck out 100 batters over 65 1/3 innings as a freshman.

DODGERS: Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred was unhappy with flippant comments made by Dodgers President Stan Kasten that followed the start of the sport’s investigation of domestic violence allegations against Los Angeles pitcher Trevor Bauer.

Bauer was placed on administrative leave by MLB on July 2, three days after an allegation of assault was made by a woman against Bauer.

Kasten, speaking with reporters that day at Nationals Park after the World Series champion Dodgers visited the White House, said “it’s really great to follow up such a great morning.” He added: “and now I have to have this press conference.”

Then Kasten said he told Manager Dave Roberts ahead of his meeting with reporters: “Just say, `Can we please talk about foreign substances?”‘ Kasten said the team would await the investigation before commenting.

“It was pretty clear what people thought about it. I don’t think it was a helpful comment given all we’re trying to achieve in this area,” Manfred told the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. “But I can’t say much more than that.”

Bauer’s leave was imposed with pay under the joint domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy adopted by MLB and the players’ union in 2015. It was extended through this Thursday and can be extended again by agreement between MLB and the union. It also can be the initial step leading to a longer suspension.

Players penalized in the past under the domestic violence policy include Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias, Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman and pitcher Domingo German, Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell, Toronto pitcher Roberto Osuna, Colorado shortstop Jose Reyes and Atlanta outfielder Hector Olivera.

“I think that our policies are robust and appropriate,” Manfred said. “I think when you put them next to the policies that are present in most businesses in industry, they’re actually broader and more protective in terms of who we cover, for example.

“So, yes, I think the policies are appropriate in terms of the administration. Every single time that we have had an allegation, we have conducted the most thorough investigation possible. We have a department of investigations that’s significantly bigger and (has) more expertise than at any point in the history of the game. And when we have found credibility to an allegation, I think if you look at the disciplinary record, we have sent a message about what we will and will not tolerate.”

ATHLETICS: Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred says the fate of the Athletics in Oakland will be determined in the next few months.

A’s owners have proposed a new ballpark in the Howard Terminal area of Oakland, and Manfred said if the stadium project is not approved, the team would move forward with either a move to Las Vegas or a wider relocation search.

“The Oakland process is at an end,” Manfred told the Baseball Writers’ Association of America before Tuesday night’s All-Star Game.

The Oakland City Council is to consider a non-binding terms sheet on July 20.

“This is the decision point for Oakland as whether they want to have Major League Baseball going forward,” he said.e said that while the health situation had improved with increased vaccinations, changes could not be made midseason.


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