Speeding up games on MLB agenda for next season

Jeff Luhnow, general manager for the Houston Astros, talks with members of the media at the annual MLB baseball general managers’ meetings, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Major League Baseball is intent on shortening games next season.

The average time of a nine-inning game was a record 3 hours, 5 minutes this season, up from 2:56 in 2015. The postseason average was 3:29.

Many owners and general managers want to cut down trips to the mound by catchers, whether the reason is changing signs, talking about pitch selection or giving a pitcher a breather during long plate appearances.

Toronto Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro says “it’s not just listening to our current fans, it’s thinking about our future fans and the landscape we’re competing on.”

MLB proposed three changes last offseason that the players’ union didn’t accept, and management can start them next year without player approval: restricting catchers to one trip to the mound per pitcher each inning; employing a 20-second pitch clock; and raising the bottom of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level — at the top of the kneecap.

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred prefers reaching an agreement with the union.

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