Manfred: Pace-of-play efforts 'effective' in 1st month

Tim Bradbury / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred is pleased with the early results of his grand pace-of-play experiment.

Ahead of this season, MLB unveiled several rules aimed at speeding up the game, including limiting teams to six mound visits per nine-inning contest, and a further reduction of the time between innings. Initial returns were said to be positive - during the first week, the average length of games reportedly dropped by more than four minutes compared to that of 2017 - and Manfred confirmed Tuesday that things have sped up across the sport.

"Whenever you change a rule in baseball, people predict all sorts of dire outcomes, and we have avoided even the smallest of incidents related either to the mound visit rule or the shorter inning breaks," Manfred told reporters during a press conference in Toronto, according to The Associated Press. "Secondly, I'm positive about them because they've been effective. We are way down in terms of mound visits, I think down about 50 percent, and our inning breaks are significantly shorter.

"I take both of those as positives in an ongoing effort to make sure that we're producing an entertainment product with as little dead time as possible."

In addition to the pace of play itself getting faster, mound visits are down from one year ago. According to Manfred, teams were averaging only 3.79 non-pitching-change mound visits per game through Sunday. In 2017, games averaged 7.41 such visits.

Related: Average game time in opening week reportedly drops over 4 minutes from '17

News that pace of play has improved has likely been well received in the MLB Players Association offices. The union rejected Manfred's attempts to bring in a pitch clock in February alongside the other changes. The commissioner chose not to unilaterally implement a clock, but threatened to do so in 2019 if this year's average game time didn't drop below two hours, 55 minutes.

But while pitch clocks are effective in the minor leagues, Manfred refused to commit to bringing them to big-league ballparks next year.

"(I'm) not in a position where I'm going to say for certain whether or not we're going to have pitch clocks at the big league level," he said.

Manfred: Pace-of-play efforts 'effective' in 1st month
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