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MLB: Speeding up games is still a concern

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Astros pitching coach Brent Strom speaks with pitcher Dallas Keuchel and catcher Brian McCann during a mound visit in Game 5 of the World Series on Oct. 29.
(Jamie Squire / Getty Images)

Major League Baseball will change rules to speed games next year with or without an agreement with the players’ association.

Management proposed last offseason to institute a 20-second pitch clock, allow one trip to the mound by a catcher per pitcher each inning and raise the bottom of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level at the top of the kneecap. The union didn’t agree, and clubs have the right to impose those changes unilaterally for 2018.

“My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players, but if we can’t get an agreement we are going to have rule changes in 2018 one way or the other,” baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday after a quarterly owners’ meeting.

Nine-inning games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes during the regular season and 3:29 during the postseason.

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Also, experts are looking into the specifications of baseballs after a record 6,105 home runs were hit this season, and owners were updated about team decisions on expanded protective netting.

Etc.

Hensley Meulens has become the third candidate to interview for New York Yankees manager after Rob Thomson and Eric Wedge. A former outfielder who spent five of his seven major league seasons with the Yankees, the 50-year-old has been a coach with the San Francisco Giants for the last eight seasons. ...

Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, third baseman Mike Moustakas and outfielder Lorenzo Cain were among nine free agents who turned down $17.4-million qualifying offers from their teams Thursday. Chicago Cubs pitchers Jake Arrieta and Wade Davis also said no, as did Tampa Bay pitcher Alex Cobb, Colorado closer Greg Holland, St. Louis pitcher Lance Lynn and Cleveland first baseman Carlos Santana. If they sign with new teams, their old clubs would get an extra draft pick as compensation — possibly a much lower selection than in the past under the rules in baseball’s new labor contract.

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