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Manfred hopeful of agreement for pace of play rule changes

The Minnesota Twins take batting practice before an American League wild-card baseball game against the New York Yankees on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred is hopeful the league and players' union will agree to changes to speed pace of play.

Manfred said before Tuesday's AL wild-card game that he's encouraged by conversations with the union and "direct engagement with players." He declined to address specifics of a deal, but says he thinks the league and union will have an agreement that will be "meaningful."

The average time of a nine-inning game in the majors rose 4½ minutes this season to a record 3 hours, 5 minutes, 11 seconds. MLB's averaged had dropped to 2:56 in 2015.

Baseball management proposed three changes last offseason the players' association didn't accept, and MLB has the right to 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.

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