Giants

Manfred on pace issues: ‘Confident that we will have changes for next year’

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AP

Manfred on pace issues: ‘Confident that we will have changes for next year’

CHICAGO -- Major League Baseball is having conversations with the players' association over possible rule changes designed to speed the pace of play, and Commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday he hopes to reach an agreement instead of implementing any measures unilaterally.

Manfred also said the Bruce Sherman-led ownership group trying to purchase the Miami Marlins has presented the league with a financial structure that would work for finalizing the deal, and he expressed confidence that a major league franchise can be successful in the market. Speaking at the conclusion of the owners meetings, he also expressed surprise with veteran umpire Joe West's reaction to his suspension for his comments about Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre.

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. Management proposed making changes for this year, such as installing pitch clocks and limiting trips to the mound by catchers, but players' association head Tony Clark said his side would not agree. The league can implement changes by itself with one-year advance notice.

"We met with Tony Clark and a group of players last week," Manfred said. "The tone of those conversations have been very positive. Hats off to Tony and the players on that, and I remain confident that we will have changes for next year on the issue of pace of game that will be significant."

Manfred declined to get into any specifics about possible changes or what the league might do if it is unable to reach a deal with the union.

"I think the best course for baseball - and by that I mean the clubs and the players - is for us to get an agreement," he said.

A message was left Thursday seeking comment from the players' association.

The owners had a light agenda for their quarterly meeting at a hotel in downtown Chicago, and one of the major topics was Sherman's signed $1.2 billion agreement to purchase the Marlins from Jeffrey Loria. Former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter is a limited partner in the group and will take over Miami's business and baseball operations if the transaction is approved.

Sherman met with the MLB ownership committee on Wednesday, and the deal could be completed by the end of the season. Manfred brushed aside any concern over reports that the group is seeking more financing.

"The group led by Mr. Sherman has presented us with a financial structure that would allow them to close the transaction consistent with baseball's rules," he said. "That doesn't mean that they might prefer to have additional equity in the deal and might be out there looking for it. But they have a financial structure that would allow them to close the deal consistent with our rules."

West, 64, was disciplined this month after he told USA Today that Beltre was the biggest complainer in the major leagues. West, the majors' senior umpire, also said he told Beltre during a recent game that he may be a great ballplayer but that he was the worst umpire in the league.

Manfred said he met with West after his comments became public and they agreed a three-day suspension was appropriate.

"Unfortunately Mr. West decided he didn't want to live up to that agreement," Manfred said. "I assume in consultation with the (World Umpires Association), given the statements that they've made, and we had to proceed in a different way.

"But I did have a very specific understanding with Mr. West as to what was going to happen here and that he was in agreement with what was going to happen here."

The umpires' union announced West's suspension and said it strongly disagreed with the decision. It is seeking the restoration of West's lost salary.

A message was left Thursday seeking comment from the WUA.

While West's suspension and Detroit infielder Ian Kinsler's harsh criticism of umpire Angel Hernandez on Tuesday has put a spotlight on the relationship between players and umps, don't look for an electronic strike zone anytime soon.

Manfred said the technology isn't quite there just yet, and he sounded reluctant to make the move when it arrives.

"It would be a pretty fundamental change in the game to take away a function that has been performed by our umpiring staff really with phenomenal accuracy," Manfred said. "I know it's easy to say he missed that one, he missed the other one. The fact of the matter is they get them right well over 90 percent of the time. And there is a human aspect to that, a work aspect to it that's always been an important part of our game."

As Dodgers celebrate, Bochy turns eyes to franchise-altering talent

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USATSI

As Dodgers celebrate, Bochy turns eyes to franchise-altering talent

LOS ANGELES — The Giants left their dugout quickly after Friday’s loss, escaping a celebration on the mound and a fireworks show in the sky. As Dodger Stadium shook with cheers, Bruce Bochy sat in the visiting clubhouse and smiled. He nodded at his laptop, which earlier had been used to pull up highlights of Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani. 

“He’s good,” Bochy said, laughing. “I absolutely would play him every day.”

Earlier in the week, when it became known that Bobby Evans and Jeremy Shelley were headed to Japan to scout Otani, Bochy said he couldn’t imagine a player pitching and then moving to the outfield between starts. What changed? 

Perhaps it was the tape Bochy saw. Otani throws 100 mph and hits homers with ease. Or perhaps it was the game he watched Friday. The Giants lost for the 94th time, with the big blow coming from a 22-year-old Dodgers star. Cody Bellinger’s blast was the difference in a 4-2 win, and the Giants don’t have a Bellinger, or anything close. Otani, 23, is a long shot for a team that very well could finish with the worst record in baseball. Still, he’s the kind of talent that could help pull the Giants closer in a hurry. He’s the  kind of talent they haven’t developed in years, and Bochy certainly sounded a bit wistful as he talked of the power Bellinger has put on display. 

“You call up a guy and he does that — that just doesn’t happen,” he said. “It’s a rare deal.”

The ninth inning of the Dodgers’ clincher reinforced that point for the Giants. They got a homer from Pablo Sandoval, but he’s playing only because Christian Arroyo — the Giants’ best prospect bet this year — is hurt. Ryder Jones, their 23-year-old prospect, struck out to end the night, dropping his average to .180. 

That set off a celebration for Bellinger and the Dodgers. They have won five straight NL West titles, with three of the last four clinched against the Giants. 

“Congrats to them,” Bochy said. “They’ve had a tremendous year across the board, and they’ve played great baseball. They brought some guys up that really did a great job for them. It’s well deserved.”

Bochy said it was not difficult to watch this one. The division has been wrapped up for months, with only a September slide keeping the Dodgers from clinching earlier. 

“We knew what we were facing here,” Bochy said. 

The Giants have two more against the Dodgers and then six more before a long winter. The Dodgers, on the other hand, will host an NLDS series here at Dodger Stadium. Both Bochy and starter Jeff Samardzija made the same observation, that the Dodgers will have a hard time cutting their deep roster down to 25 postseason players. 

That’s a nice problem to have. It’s a foreign one right now for the Giants, who have a serious talent gap and no clear solutions internally. It’s no wonder, then, that Bochy has all of a sudden become so intrigued by a wondrous talent overseas. 

Samardzija hits two milestones, makes 200-200 club in start vs Dodgers

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USATSI

Samardzija hits two milestones, makes 200-200 club in start vs Dodgers

LOS ANGELES — When the Giants gathered for spring training in February, team officials thought they had put together a rotation with four 200-inning arms. The starters didn’t come close to hitting that lofty goal, but one Giant got to the 200-inning mark Friday night. 

Jeff Samardzija hit 200 innings in the third inning Friday night at Dodger Stadium, reaching the standard for the fifth consecutive season. Samardzija also became the first Giant this year to reach 200 strikeouts when he struck out Curtis Granderson to open the second inning. The right-hander will be the only member of the rotation to reach either milestone, with Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto limited by injuries and Matt Moore having a down year. 

“These guys like Jeff that are able to handle that workload that he does and log 200 innings and have durability, that’s invaluable,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “You look at what it does for the ‘pen but also the quality of innings he gives you. His record should be different with how he has thrown the ball — he can’t control that. But the workload itself is important.”

Samardzija became the first Giants right-hander to strike out 200 in a season since Tim Lincecum (220) in 2011. Samardzija joined Carlos Martinez as the only National League pitchers who have thrown 200 innings this year, and Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, Robbie Ray, Martinez and Zack Greinke in the league’s 200-strikeout club.