Rob Manfred

MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement

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MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement

ORLANDO, Fla. -- 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.

Players and MLB have held initial bargaining since summer, and MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem said this week he would like an agreement by mid-January.

"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.

Astros' Gurriel suspended 5 games in 2018 for gesture, slur at Darvish

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Astros' Gurriel suspended 5 games in 2018 for gesture, slur at Darvish

HOUSTON — Yuli Gurriel of the Houston Astros has been suspended for five games next season for making a racist gesture at Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish during the World Series.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred announced the penalty Saturday, a day after Gurriel’s actions during Game 3.

Manfred said he didn’t think it would be fair to penalize the rest of the Astros by suspending Gurriel during the World Series. Manfred said he understood other people might take a different view.

Gurriel will miss the first five games of the 2018 season and will not be paid during his suspension.

Gurriel said he didn't intend to offend Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish when he pulled on the corners of his eyes after homering against him Friday night.

"I didn't try to offend nobody," Gurriel said in Spanish through a translator. 

"I was commenting to my family that I didn't have any luck against Japanese pitchers here in the United States."

Gurriel, a 33-year-old from Cuba, made the gesture shortly after homering to start Houston's four-run second inning. While sitting in the dugout, Gurriel put his fingers to the side of his eyes and said "chinito" - a derogatory Spanish term that translates literally to "little Chinese."

Darvish was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and Iranian father.

The league has recently suspended other players caught using slurs. Toronto's Kevin Pillar and Oakland's Matt Joyce were each banned for two games this season after making anti-gay comments.

Gurriel said the derogatory term is used commonly in Cuba to refer to Asian people. He said he knows the Japanese are offended by it because he played in Japan in 2014.

"In the moment, I didn't want to offend him or nobody in Japan because I have a lot of respect for them and I played in Japan," he said, adding that, "I didn't mean to do it."

Darvish played professionally in Japan from 2005-11 before joining the Texas Rangers in 2012. He was traded to the Dodgers at this year's July 31 trade deadline. He was angry about what happened.

"Acting like that, you just disrespect all the people around the world," he said in Japanese through a translator.

Gurriel hopes to speak with Darvish about what happened.

"Yes, of course. I want to talk to him because I have nothing against him," he said. "I think he's one of the best pitchers in Japan, and I never had success against him. ... If he felt offended, I want to apologize to him."

Gurriel spent 15 years in the Cuban professional league and played in Japan for a year before signing with the Astros last season. 
Gurriel homered and doubled in Game 3 and is batting .346 in the postseason.

"I know he's remorseful," Houston manager A.J. Hinch said.


Some of Darvish's former teammates with the Rangers called out Gurriel for his actions on Twitter. Pitcher Jake Diekman used an emoji to call the gesture trash, and outfielder Ryan Rua tweeted: "really hope that gesture from Gurriel wasnt directed towards Yu...no place for that."

Darvish hopes the incident can be a learning experience.

"Nobody's perfect and everybody is different and then ... we just ... have to learn from it," he said. "And then he made a mistake and then we're just going to learn from it. We are all human beings. That's what I'm saying, so just learn from it and we've got to go forward, move forward."


AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.

© 2017 by The Associated Press


 

Red Sox and Yankees receive undisclosed fines for Watchgate

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Red Sox and Yankees receive undisclosed fines for Watchgate

Spygate, it wasn't. Deflategate, it wasn't.

To the disappointment of people like Jon Heyman -- who wanted Major League Baseball to force the Red Sox to forfeit all of this season's victories over the Yankees because of "cheating" -- Watchgate came to an anticlimactic ending Friday when commissioner Rob Manfred fined the Red Sox an undisclosed amount of money over the sign-stealing incident reported to MLB by the Yankees several weeks ago. The Yanks complained the Sox were using an Apple watch in the dugout to relay signs, which were deciphered by the team's video workers in the clubhouse, to hitters.

Manfred -- who pointed out that the stealing of signs is not illegal, though using on-field electonic devices to relay them is -- said the money from the fine would be used to help hurricane-relief efforts in Florida.

The Yankees didn't escape unscathed. The Red Sox had filed a countercomplaint, accusing them of using their YES Network cameras to steal signs, and though Manfred said there was "insufficient evidence" to punish them for that, he did fine them an undisclosed amount for violating a rule governing the use of dugout phones.

So there were no suspensions or firings of individuals involved in the scheme, as some had called for, nor was there any forfeiture of draft choices. But Manfred warned "all 30 Clubs have been notified that future violations of this type will be subject to more serious sanctions, including the possible loss of draft picks."