Commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday that this generation of players will determine its own unwritten rules on what emotion is acceptable to show on the field.
Hall of Fame pitcher Goose Gossage, a Yankees spring training instructor, last month criticized Blue Jays star Jose Bautista for a bat flip during last year's playoffs, calling him "a disgrace to the game." Gossage, 64, also said NL MVP Bryce Harper "doesn't know squat about the game … no respect for it."
"I think to the extent that you believe, and I actually do, that Bryce Harper is a spokesman for this generation, I suspect that you will see more exuberance from our players on the field," Manfred said. "I think it's a good thing. I think that to the extent that you're trying to market to a younger audience, our younger players taking control of the definition of those unwritten rules is a lot better than some guy who's 67 years saying I did it that way and you do it the same way."
"I really appreciate the words from Mr. Manfred," Harper said. "It's still a game where it's evolving into what it needs to be, and we're going to have a lot of fun hopefully in the next 20 years and push the envelope."
Bautista memorably flipped his bat after hitting a three-run homer in Game 5 of the AL Division Series against Texas.
Manfred said of Gossage: "He's entitled to have his opinion. I don't happen to agree with him on this particular topic. Goose and his peers developed a set of unwritten understandings about what was acceptable on the field when he played the game, and I think the generation of players that are on the field today are going to do the same thing."
Manfred also talked about last month's exhibition game that the Rays played in Cuba against the Cuban national team: "Cuba gave us an opportunity to occupy the headlines at a point in the calendar that is extremely difficult for baseball because it's right in the middle of the NCAA Tournament. It allowed us an opportunity to make progress on the issue that is of most immediate concern with respect to Cuba, and that is the ability to get players the right to come here, play Major League Baseball, go back to Cuba without having to risk their lives on a boat trip."
ZIKA CONCERNS: Marlins and Pirates players have expressed concerns about a two-game series next month in Puerto Rico because of the Zika virus. The teams and MLB officials expect the games to be played as scheduled May 30-31, they said. Discussions with the players union are continuing, and union head Tony Clark described health and safety concerns as serious. U.S. health officials say Puerto Rico is the front lines of the nation's battle with Zika. "We recognize the importance of the trip," Marlins LHP Craig Breslow said. "But at the same time, our health and the health of our families is paramount."
DODGERS: LHP Clayton Kershaw let loose with something new to the Braves' Tyler Flowers, a looping pitch clocked at 46 mph that bounced in for a ball. Kershaw said he noticed Flowers taking his time in the batter's box and wanted to quick pitch him with a fastball down the middle. But he saw Flowers get ready in a hurry and wanted to avoid grooving the first pitch. So he improvised. "Kind of lobbed it up there," Kershaw said.
Mariners: RHP Felix Hernandez is scheduled to start at the Angels tonight, needing one strikeout to break the team career record he shares with Randy Johnson (2,162).