LEADING OFF: Triple-A All-Stars, draft picks near deadline
A look at what's happening all around the majors today:
Big leaguers are off the next two days, but if you need baseball on TV, the Triple-A All-Star Game is being broadcast live at 7 p.m. EDT on MLB Network. Many of the participants might not be long for the minors, including Twins right-hander Jose Berrios, who has already made four starts in the majors this season. A few others who could see the majors in the second half: Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, Padres outfielder Hunter Renfroe and Diamondbacks right-hander Braden Shipley.
The deadline to sign 2016 amateur draft picks is Friday, and three first-rounders - all left-handed pitchers - have yet to sign: Braxton Garrett with the Marlins, Jason Groome with the Red Sox and Anthony Kay with the Mets. Garrett was the seventh overall pick and has a commitment to Vanderbilt for if he doesn't sign. Groome was also a Vanderbilt commit but reportedly switched to a junior college days before the draft, meaning he could re-enter the 2017 draft and try to make more money - a move that increased his negotiating leverage. Kay, a junior at Connecticut, was the 31st overall pick.
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred's checklist for the second half includes a familiar item: quicken MLB's pace of play. Manfred admitted Tuesday the sport ''slipped right at the beginning this year'' when it comes to pace of play. The average time of a game was 3 hours, 13 seconds prior to the All-Star Game, up from 2:53:04 in 2015. ''Pace of play for me is like dandelions in your front lawn,'' Manfred said. ''I just can't get rid of it.''
Manfred also said that MLB is going to meet with the World Baseball Softball Confederation to discuss possibly allowing major leaguers to compete in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, although he added that ''from a calendar prospective, the dates of the Tokyo Games are not ideal.'' The International Olympic Committee executive board voted last month to support a six-nation tournament in baseball and softball for 2020, with a full IOC vote scheduled for August. Baseball was dropped prior to the 2012 London Games and won't be played next month at Rio. ''We like the idea of baseball being in the Olympics,'' Manfred said. ''We're supportive of baseball being in the Olympics.''