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MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred: League Focused on Pace of Play, Won't Expand DH Yet

It does not look like the league will be implementing changes as bold as a universal designated hitter in 2019.

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said a designated hitter is not coming to the National League quite yet. Manfred said that league leadership is focused on pace-of-game changes for 2019 instead.

Manfred added that expanding the DH–which was suggested by players in response to the league's said desire to speed up games–will have to wait until the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, which is currently slated to take place before the 2022 season.

He said he is encouraged that the players' association responded to management’s proposal for a 20-second pitch clock and a three-batter minimum for a relief pitcher unless an inning ends. Both proposals are designed to shorten games and remain on the table as talks continue.

“Some of these items need to be part of broader discussions that certainly will continue after opening day," Manfred said. "And I hope we can focus on some of the issues that need to get resolved quickly in the interim."

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Manfred first proposed the pitch clock before last season but the idea was shot down by players. While he has the right to implement the clock without players' approval, Manfred has been reluctant to make on-field changes without players’ agreement.The league suggested the three-batter minimum to the union more recently. 

“Repeated pitching changes obviously take a lot of time,” Manfred said Friday. “The idea of relievers having to go longer is appealing in terms of promoting the role of the starting pitcher, encouraging pitchers to pitch a little longer at the beginning of the game."

He continued: "I think historically some of our biggest stars (are) starting pitchers and we want to make sure those big stars are out there long enough that that they are marketed.”

The commissioner added that he's "hopeful" about the process of change happening with the MLB.