Monday, December 18, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Baseball chief Manfred says changes could come this year to improve games' pace

LAKELAND — Commissioner Rob Manfred wanted to make clear at the start of his Thursday address that he believes strongly "there is nothing about baseball that needs to be fixed."

Then he proceeded at spring training media day to detail changes he would like to see, as soon as this season, to eliminate dead time and increase action in games.

Most dramatic would be raising the bottom of the strike zone from below the knee to back above it, with the idea that more higher pitches would be put in play more often, and not result in more walks.

"The theory is the pitch below the knee is being called a strike more frequently, that that particular pitch is hard to hit and that forcing pitchers up in the zone would produce more action," Manfred said. "(This change) is sort of restoring the natural order, getting back to where we were."

Other changes under consideration, and in negotiation with the players union, include making intentional walks automatic and limiting the time managers have to decide on replays and the time for reviews to be completed.

Reducing the dead time, Manfred said, is more important than games' overall length. "A quicker pace is good for fans," he said. "What we want is a well-paced game with action regardless of time of game."

There could be a rush to get the changes implemented, given there is no deal yet with the union and camps are open, but Manfred said he is confident they can be done by opening day. Other changes, such as putting a runner on second base at the start of extra innings, will be made only at lower levels to allow for experimentation and data gathering.

On other topics, Manfred said:

• Florida, thanks to Gov. Rick Scott, has been "an unbelievable partner" to Major League Baseball in terms of providing and upgrading facilities for the 15 spring teams and the two that stick around year-round.

• Adding in-market game streaming for 27 teams, including the Rays, is a "really important way for particularly younger fans to enjoy our games."

• He would like to see "increased interest and support" for next month's World Baseball Classic in the United States as there is in other countries.

Comments
Rays’ trade silence likely a short-lived phenomenon

Rays’ trade silence likely a short-lived phenomenon

LAKE BUENA VISTA — There were a lot of reasons the Rays didn’t start the process of trading some of their bigger-name, higher-paid players at last week’s winter meetings.Most obvious was them not finding the just-right deal to move closer Alex Colome...
Published: 12/16/17
No big deal for Rays at winter meetings, but it’s still coming

No big deal for Rays at winter meetings, but it’s still coming

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Here’s the one thing we definitely know:Rays officials headed home from the winter meetings and back across I-4 Thursday without making deals to trade any of their bigger-name, higher-paid players. Not closer Alex Colome, not third...
Published: 12/14/17
Are Tampa Bay Rays going to make a major deal involving Alex Colome, others? Well …

Are Tampa Bay Rays going to make a major deal involving Alex Colome, others? Well …

UPDATE, 4:02: It doesn't sound like the Rays and Cardinals will be making a deal today, Derrick Goold writing for the St. Louis Post Dispatch that Cardinals execs "leave the Walt Disney Dolphin resort with good feel for what Tampa Bay would be willin...
Published: 12/14/17
Rays re-sign pitcher Jonny Venters, among 13 invited to spring training

Rays re-sign pitcher Jonny Venters, among 13 invited to spring training

LAKE BUENA VISTA — LHP Jonny Venters got as far as Triple A in September. Now the former All-Star is positioned to make it all the way back to the majors for the first time since 2012, re-signing with the Rays and headlining Thursday’s announcement o...
Published: 12/14/17
Veteran Jonny Venters, prospect Joe McCarthy among 13 Tampa Bay Rays spring invitees

Veteran Jonny Venters, prospect Joe McCarthy among 13 Tampa Bay Rays spring invitees

Inspiring veteran LHP Jonny Venters and intriguing prospect 1B/OF Joe McCarthy are among 13 players invited to major-league spring training camp with the Rays.Others coming as a result of signing minor-league contracts with invites are: RHP R.J. Alan...
Published: 12/14/17
Tampa Bay Rays lose RHP Burch Smith in Rule 5 draft, keep Nick Ciuffo

Tampa Bay Rays lose RHP Burch Smith in Rule 5 draft, keep Nick Ciuffo

The Rays lost RHP Burch Smith in Thursday's Rule 5 draft but were happy to see him get an opportunity in Kansas City.They also were pleased to hang on to C Nick Ciuffo, who was left exposed but not selected.Smith, 27, was acquired from the Padres as ...
Published: 12/14/17
Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 4

Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 4

UPDATE, 11:09: RHP Steve Cishek, who was a very effective addition to the Rays pen last season, has reunited with pitching coach Jim Hickey, agreeing to a deal with the Cubs.UPDATE, 10:40: Like most teams, Rays officials are heading out of the meetin...
Published: 12/14/17
Disney-Fox deal gives ESPN control of local cable rights to Rays, Lightning games

Disney-Fox deal gives ESPN control of local cable rights to Rays, Lightning games

As part of its deal to buy a massive package of 21st Century Fox assets, Disney will acquire Fox Sports Regional Networks, which control the local cable rights to a slew of professional teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays and Tampa Bay Lightning.Assu...
Published: 12/14/17
Tampa Bay Rays making progress in trade talks

Tampa Bay Rays making progress in trade talks

Without getting into specifics – especially the who and the where – Rays officials are for the first time talking optimistically about making a trade before the winter meetings end Thursday.Speaking at around 5:15, senior VP Chaim Bloom s...
Published: 12/13/17

Winter meetings journal: Rays trade for money to sign top international free agent

LAKE BUENA VISTA — While most of the business conducted at the meetings impacts the big-league team one way or another, the Rays are working to finalize a move they hope pays off big sometime in the 2020s.In trading Wednesday to acquire $1 million in...
Published: 12/13/17