Rob Manfred eyes pitch clock, strike zone

Rob Manfred eyes pitch clock, strike zone

Rob Manfred favors introducing a pitch clock, eliminating defensive shifts, and other changes to the game of baseball.

Rob Manfred became baseball’s 10th commissioner on Sunday when he succeeded Bud Selig, who is now commissioner emeritus after serving in the top post for more than 22 years.

And, from the beginning, Manfred is making it clear that he intends to reevaluate how the game of baseball is played.

His review is on display with the league’s recent experimentation with pitch clocks. Once those are installed in the major league, Manfred’s next order of business will be finding ways to infuse more offense into the game. That could include eliminating defensive shifts, Manfred said during an interview with ESPN.

“I think the second set of changes that I would look at is related (to the pitch clock), and that relates to injecting additional offense into the game,” Manfred said. “For example, eliminating shifts. I would be open to those sorts of ideas.”

Of course, those changes would not be likely to come without pushback. Defensive shifts have been as much a part of baseball as the cutoff man for years, especially of late. Teams have spent a lot of money employing sabermetricians to analyze, among other things, the precise defensive positioning needed to best combat an opposing batter.

Manfred said those people would just have to adjust accordingly.

“Look, we have really smart people working in the game,” he said. “And they’re going to figure out ways to get a competitive advantage. I think it’s incumbent upon us in the commissioner’s office to look at the advantages that are produced and say, Is this what we want to happen in the game?”

Manfred, 55, was unanimously elected as commissioner by the 30 MLB owners in August 2014. He became MLB’s executive vice president of economics and league affairs in 1998 and parlayed that into a bigger role in 2012 as the vice president of economics and league affairs. In September 2013, Manfred was promoted to chief operating officer.