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MLB considering changing strike zone

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MLB considering changing strike zone

By RONALD BLUM

NEW YORK (AP) -- Baseball's strike zone could be getting a slight lift.

Major League Baseball is studying whether to raise the bottom of the strike zone from the hollow beneath the kneecap back to the top of the kneecap.

"I'm not in a position to predict whether it's going to happen or not," Rob Manfred said during an interview with The Associated Press on Monday on his first anniversary as baseball commissioner. "I think that the interest in the topic is really driven by the fact that if you look over time there has been a movement down of the strike zone, largely as a result of the way we evaluate the strike zone with umpires."

Strike zone data was included in a presentation given to owners last week at their meeting in Coral Gables, Florida. An agreement with the players' association would be necessary to make a change for this year, and baseball officials said the matter is likely to be discussed during collective bargaining, which would delay any change until 2017.

The strike zone extended to the top of the kneecap through the 1995 season, then was dropped to its current level.

"The umpires have done a great job calling the strike zone as we want it called," Manfred said. "The question is whether we ought to make an adjustment."

Consideration of an alteration comes following a decade-and-a-half decline in offense. There was an uptick during the second half last season.

"The bottom to the top of the knees is only a matter of a couple inches, so it wouldn't be a big adjustment for anybody," San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford said in an email. "But, it may help hitters mentally knowing that the zone is a little smaller (even if only by a couple inches). It could help us check off pitches that look like they might be at the bottom of the zone but are sinking even lower."

Without bottom-of-the-zone strikes, pitchers would have to adjust.

"Obviously, raising the strike zone provides more opportunity for hitters to create lift, leading to more doubles and homers, and runs -- which probably generates more eyeballs watching the sport," Los Angeles Angels closer Huston Street said in an email.

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto, the youngest player in the majors at 19, hit a three-run homer in his first career start as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Monday.

Mark Reynolds had two solo home runs for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bryce Harper had a homer and an RBI double.

Soto's drive highlighted a five-run second inning for Washington. The promising outfielder, who played for three minor league teams this season, hit the first pitch from Robbie Erlin (1-3) over the Nationals bullpen in left-center field. Soto also singled.

Soto's homer traveled an estimated 442 feet at Nationals Park. He earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the teenager responded by taking a curtain call. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in a major league game since Harper on Sept. 30, 2012.

Called up to Washington on Sunday, Soto became the first 19-year-old to make his major league debut since Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in 2016. He entered that game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out.

Washington's starting left fielder began the season at Class A Hagerstown. He hit a combined .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in his three minor league stops.

Gio Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

San Diego's Franmil Reyes, playing in his seventh career game, also hit his first career home run.

Trea Turner hit a pair of RBI doubles for Washington. Reynolds had three hits.

Erlin surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings in his third start of the season. San Diego had won three in a row.

Reyes connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Padres' lineup generated little else against Gonzalez, who allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at San Diego on May 9.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

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@MLB

Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

Juan Soto, the highly-regarded 19-year-old Nationals' prospect, got his first major league start of his career tonight. 

How did it go, you ask? Surely it would take Soto - who was in Single-A less than two weeks ago - some time to adjust? 

What were you doing at 19??

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.