Washington Nationals superstar Bryce Harper dodged serious injury on what many believed to be a season ending knee injury after the 24-year-old outfielder slipped on first base Saturday night while attempting to leg out an infield single. Harper’s agent Scott Boras believes the injury never should’ve happened and believes damp bases, like the one the 5-time All-Star slipped on, should be on Major League Baseball’s radar.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred joined The Jim Rome Show on Tuesday and shared his thoughts on Harper’s injury and if something like that might possibly be able to be prevented moving forward.
“Look, we are always looking for ways to improve the safety of our players on the field,” Manfred said on CBS Sports Radio. “Obviously we’ve made a couple of important changes in recent years, the home plate collision rule and then the changes surrounding plays at 2nd base.
“I think with this one, you know it’s one of those freak things. You know two players heading for the bag at the same time and just putting his foot down at the wrong spot in relation to the bag, it’s hard to know how you can prevent an injury like that.”
Some of today’s younger players seem more willing to express their personality after hitting home runs, much to the dismay of some opposing pitchers who may retaliate by throwing at them intentionally or unintentionally, which is all part of baseball’s “code” or “unwritten rules.” Manfred talked about whether he thinks baseball’s “unwritten rules” are good or bad for the game.
“I think that the ‘code’ has always been a part of the baseball tradition,” Manfred said. “I think the most important point to make is I think that code is going to evolve. The code has always been established and effectively enforced by players. I think the next generation of players, the young guys that are coming into the game right now are a little different than their predecessors, and I do think you’re going to see the code change to allow a little more emotion on the field.”
Manfred also spoke about the pace of play in today’s game, but noted you can’t determine the length of a game based on the it’s pace.
“I see pace of play and the length of the game as two separate issues,” Manfred said. “How long a game takes is often determined by what happens on the field, number of runs scored whatever. More important to me is we focus on the elimination of dead time in the game. So whether it’s a 10-9 game or a 2-1 game the game moves along with good pace.”
Manfred said before making bigger fundamental changes to the game, however, they need to deal with the sport’s dead time.
“We need to deal with the dead times in our game,” Manfred said. “Commercial breaks, mound visits, pitchers who don’t deliver the ball promptly.”
“Nobody is in favor of dead time,” the commissioner said. “We need to deal with those things first, and I think we should avoid, until we’ve eliminated the dead time at least, any change that would impact the outcome of a game. The way you use players, suggestions like relief pitchers should have to pitch to more than one batter. We should avoid those changes until we’ve dealt with the dead time issue.”
As for if a pitch clock will be part of the evolution of Major League Baseball, Manfred hopes to continue the conversation.
“We’ve used the pitch clock in the minor leagues for a number of years,” Manfred said. “Even our most traditional baseball people have seen those games. They are in agreement that it moves the game along, that it’s positive without altering the fundamentals of baseball. So, I think we should continue to discuss with the Players Association and will discuss the pitch clocks.”