MLB Notes: Manfred could focus on game length

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MLB Notes: Manfred could focus on game length

BALTIMORE -- Kenesaw Mountain Landis is remembered for throwing out the Black Sox, Ford Frick for an asterisk, and Bowie Kuhn for squabbles with players and owners.

A. Bartlett Giamatti ran Pete Rose out of baseball, Fay Vincent suspended George Steinbrenner, and Bud Selig presided over the cancellation of a World Series, supersized Steroids Era sluggers, increasingly strong drug-testing agreements, and instant replay to aid umpires.

Minutes after he was elected baseball's 10th commissioner, Rob Manfred didn't want to discuss what great issues he expects to take on when he succeeds Selig on Jan. 25.

"I really don't want to get too deeply today into agendas," he said Thursday after winning a three-way race.

Others speculated the length of games will be a top priority.

Some pitchers step on and off the rubber so much you'd think they were on a StairMaster, and hitters move in and out of the batter's box as if they were rhythm gymnasts. All the pausing and preening -- along with the expanded use of relief pitchers -- has led to the average time of a nine-inning game expanding 30 minutes since 1981 to 3:03.

"That's going to be toward the top of his list, I would think," San Francisco Giants President Larry Baer said. "I'm not going to comment specifically on pitch clock. I think that's one of several ideas. Every candidate talked about it, and every owner wants it. Obviously, there will need to be player input" (see full story).

Yankees: Tanaka to throw off mound
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- New York Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka is scheduled to throw 25 pitches Saturday in his first bullpen session since going on the disabled list with a partial tear in his right elbow.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi announced the session before Friday night's game at Tampa Bay.

Tanaka is 12-4 with a 2.51 ERA in 18 starts. This is the Japanese right-hander's first season in the major leagues.

The Yankees put Tanaka on the disabled list on July 9 and hope he can return next month. Tanaka says he has "no pain" in his comeback work and Girardi says "everything has been positive" so far.

Tanaka threw on level ground for 12 minutes Friday. He also took grounders for 4 minutes and made pickoff throws to first base.

Indians: Bourn activated from DL
CLEVELAND -- The Indians have activated center fielder Michael Bourn from the 15-day disabled list.

Bourn has been slowed by a nagging hamstring injury all season. He has been on the DL since July 6 because of the hamstring, which he had surgery on last October. He recently had rehab stints with Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus.

Bourn is batting .267 with 7 triples, 3 home runs, 21 RBIs and 37 runs in his second season with Cleveland.

He's returning to the Indians in time for the opener of a three-game series with the AL East-leading Baltimore Orioles. The Indians head into the weekend six games out of first place in the AL Central.

The speedy Bourn will take the roster spot vacated Thursday when reliever John Axford was awarded to the Pittsburgh Pirates on waivers (see full story).

Instant Replay: Reds 5, Phillies 2

Instant Replay: Reds 5, Phillies 2

BOX SCORE

Aaron Nola struggled and the Phillies' offense slumbered in a 5-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phillies had just one hit through eight innings and three overall in losing for the 21st time in the last 26 games. They scored both of their runs in the ninth inning.

Over their last six games, five of which have been losses, the Phillies have been held to three hits four times.

The Phillies have scored just nine runs in their last six games.

Nola came off the disabled list and pitched seven innings of one-run ball Sunday in Pittsburgh. He failed to build on that outing against a Cincinnati club that entered the game with nine losses in its previous 12 games.

Starting pitching report
Nola, who entered the game having given up just one home run in 23 innings this season, gave up a pair of long balls in the first two innings as the Reds jumped out to a 3-0 lead. In all, the right-hander gave up six hits and five runs over six innings.

Nola is 2-2 with a 4.34 ERA in five starts.

Cincinnati right-hander Tim Adleman's 20th big-league start was the best of his career. The right-hander pitched eight shutout innings and allowed just four baserunners on one hit, two walks and a hit batsman. He struck out four.

Adleman entered the game with a 6.19 ERA this season.

Bullpen report
Mark Leiter Jr. pitched two scoreless innings and struck out three for the Phillies.

Asher Wojciechowski lost the shutout in the ninth. Raisel Iglesias came on for the final two outs. He struck out Maikel Franco, the potential tying run, hacking wildly at a full-count breaking ball to end the game.

At the plate
Andres Blanco, the Phillies' No. 2 hitter, singled in the first inning. The Phillies did not have another hit until there was one out in the ninth.

Aaron Altherr doubled in the ninth to break up the Reds' shutout bid.

Odubel Herrera batted leadoff and ran his slump to 0 for 13 before doubling in the ninth. He hit a ball hard earlier in the game, too, but Cincinnati leftfielder Adam Duvall made a nice diving catch.

For Cincinnati, Duvall and Scott Schebler took Nola deep. Jose Peraza had a two-run single against Nola in the sixth inning. He has a 12-game hitting streak.

In the field
Cincinnati catcher Devin Mesoraco made a terrific play in starting a 2-4-3 double play to end the seventh inning.

Minor matters
Second base prospect Jesmuel Valentin had season-ending surgery on his left shoulder in Philadelphia on Friday. Valentin, who was playing at Triple A Lehigh Valley, is looking at a recovery time of four to five months. He should be ready to play winter ball in his native Puerto Rico. Valentin went down to the final days of camp in a bid to make the Phillies' opening day roster in spring training (see story).

Up next
The series continues in a 4:05 p.m. start Saturday. Jerad Eickhoff (0-5, 4.70) pitches against Bronson Arroyo (3-4, 6.75).

Pete Mackanin on Odubel Herrera's slump: 'He needs to battle his way out'

Pete Mackanin on Odubel Herrera's slump: 'He needs to battle his way out'

After an 0-for-5 day at the plate, Odubel Herrera isn't heading to the bench a day later.

He's leading off. 

Pete Mackanin chose to move the slumping centerfielder atop the lineup card for Friday's series opener against the Reds despite Herrera's striking out in all five plate appearances Thursday.

"I think he's a .290-plus hitter as a leadoff man and I'm not going to sit him," Mackanin said pregame. "He needs to battle his way out. You figure you're the leadoff hitter once a game. After that, it's wide open."

While he hasn't batted leadoff this season, Herrera spent the majority of his time in that spot last season. In 76 games there, he batted .285 with a .359 OBP and .417 slugging percentage. 

The leadoff hitter this season has been Cesar Hernandez, who has a day off with a groin pull he's dealt with the last 10 days. Herrera primarily has been the No. 3 hitter this season and his average is down to .226 with 49 strikeouts to just 11 walks. 

Mackanin hopes the leadoff role can help change Herrera's approach at the plate.

"He was drawing a lot of walks at leadoff, so whether he has that mindset or not, I'm not sure," the manager said. "I just want to get him as many at-bats as possible. We need to get him going. We need him and [Maikel] Franco to get going."

May specifically has been tough on Herrera. He has four hits in his last 36 at-bats and has seven strikeouts in his last two games. He has just seven hits in 22 games this month. 

"I think he's at the point where he's grinding and sometimes when you grind, sometimes there's that feeling where you get lost," Mackanin said. "I've been in situations as a hitter where I've gone up to the plate saying, 'I don't care where it is. I'm going up there and just hacking.' Because you start thinking and that's not working.

"And you look for a pitch and then all of a sudden you say I'm going to take a pitch to get a look at and it's strike one. Then he throws you a nasty slider and that's strike two and your plan is out the window. So I've gone up to the plate myself saying, 'I'm just looking down the middle and swinging. I'm not thinking.'"

When asked, Mackanin said the team had not discussed demoting Herrera or Franco to the minors to take pressure off the duo.

While Herrera tries to hit his way back into a groove, Howie Kendrick is in the midst of working his way back to the majors. He was hit by pitch twice in a rehab appearance Thursday but is back in the lineup Friday in left field. 

Mackanin said Kendrick needed four days minimum in his rehab assignment and will therefore play Friday and Saturday before the team sees how he feels.

The manager also said the team would give more playing time to backup catcher Andrew Knapp. He started consecutive games for the first time on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

"I'm going to try and see him as much as possible and keep him as sharp as possible instead of once a week," Mackanin said. "That's tough to hit, once a week. It's tough to hit twice a week if you don't hit back-to-back. There's no ulterior motive."