NORTH PORT, Fla. — With baseball ablaze over the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal, commissioner Rob Manfred met with nearly half of the major leagues managers Sunday and told them to knock off any notion of get-even beanballs.
“I hope that I made it extremely clear to them that retaliation in-game by throwing at a batter intentionally will not be tolerated, whether it’s Houston or anybody else,” Manfred said. “It’s dangerous and it is not helpful to the current situation.”
Cody Bellinger, Kris Bryant, Trevor Bauer and Carlos Correa were among the All-Stars recently trading threats, accusations and barbs as spring training opened. The revelation of Houston’s sign-stealing scam, the punishment imposed by Major League Baseball and poorly received apologies by the Astros further enhanced anger across the sport, with players, club management and fans all joining in.
“I think that the back and forth that’s gone on is not healthy,” Manfred said.
Manfred had previously planned to attend a news conference at the Atlanta Braves’ new camp, along with managers and representatives of teams training in Florida to talk about the upcoming season. Instead of an uplifting look at the upcoming season, as this annual press session is, there was no doubt what was the No. 1 topic.
Manfred said he would personally talk to the managers of the teams that train in Arizona on Tuesday.
In further fallout from the Astros’ scheme, Manfred said the investigation into the Boston Red Sox could be completed within two weeks. He also said he planned to meet the players’ union to discuss new rules limiting in-game video access.
“I do expect that we will for 2020 have really serious restrictions on player and playing personnel access to video in-game,” Manfred said. “I think it’s really important for us to send a message to our fans that not only did we investigate and punish, but we altered our policies in a way that will help make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Manfred said MLB officials discussed the possibility of vacating the Astros’ 2017 World Series championship.
“First of all, it had never happened in baseball,” Manfred said. “I am a precedent guy. The 2017 World Series will always be looked at as different, whether not you put an asterisk or ask for the trophy back. Once you go down that road as for changing the result on the field, I just don’t know where you stop.”
Astros players were granted immunity for taking part in the investigation but Manfred said that “if I was in a world where I could have found the facts without granting immunity, I would have done that.”
“They had an obligation to play by the rules and they didn’t,” Manfred said. “ I understand when say the players should have been punished.”
Manfred said expanding the MLB playoff format is being discussed internally but that no decision has been reached.
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