BOCA RATON, Fla. – Will there be an Orioles game in Cuba next March?
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred won’t endorse the Orioles playing there, but he would like to see games in Cuba.
“I hope so. There are a variety of issues involved there, not all of which are not wholly within baseball’s control,” Manfred said.
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Manfred spoke at a press briefing Tuesday morning at the General Managers meetings.
The Orioles were the last major league team to play in Cuba in March 1999. They played against the Cuban National team.
“The federal government has some significant influence on whether that’s going to take place, and there are issues that need to be resolved before that can happen, but I’d like to say ‘yes’ to that. I’m still committed to the idea that it would be a good thing for baseball to be able to play in Cuba next spring,” Manfred said.
Manfred said there was no hard deadline to decide on games.
“We’ve got a little time still,” Manfred said with a laugh.
The Orioles’ first scheduled spring training game is March 1.
“There’s isn’t really a firm cutoff. We’re going to proceed internally and get to the point where we sort of identify who would go, meaning which club would go, if we can get it done and one club maintaining flexibility with respect to a spring training date is a lot easier than 25 clubs maintaining that flexibility on the theory that they don’t know who we’re going to pick to go,” Manfred said.
On other topics of note, Manfred said a possible rule change on sliding into bases was being studied and will be discussed at next week’s owners meetings. The Players Association must also agree on any possible change.
-He said the qualifying offer system was working well. In its first three years, none of the 34 players receiving an offer accepted one. Twenty, including Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters, have received qualifying offers this year. The deadline for accepting them is Friday at 5 p.m.
-Manfred is encouraged by the elected change in St. Petersburg, Fla. city government. He’s optimistic that the Tampa Bay Rays could have a new home in the area in the near future.
-On the question of stadium safety, Manfred said that it would be hard to have uniform rules on netting down the foul lines because ballparks differ so much.
-Manfred said he hoped to have a decision on Pete Rose’s application for reinstatement by the end of the year.
-He has few issues with the strike zone. “The umpire’s calling of the strike zone is probably more consistent than it’s ever been in the history of the game.”
-The commissioner’s office issued a statement on the domestic abuse charges against Colorado’s Jose Reyes. Manfred said the policy on the issue negotiated with the Players Association was a good one, and this will be the first test.