Terry Francona wants John Axford back in the closer’s role eventually

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About a month ago, Indians manager Terry Francona took John Axford out of the closer’s role after the right-hander had compiled a 4.91 ERA in 14 2/3 innings while blowing two saves and losing three games. Since then, the Indians have used Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw, Scott Atchison, and Mark Rzepczynski to nail down saves and it’s been working out well.

As MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports, however, Francona would like to see Axford back in the closer’s role eventually even though his current corps of hurlers are getting the job done. Since his demotion into lower-leverage innings, Axford has a 1.08 ERA with 11 strikeouts and four walks in 8 1/3 innings.

Report: MLB likely to unilaterally implement pace of play changes

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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that talks between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players’ Association concerning pace of play changes have stalled, which makes it more likely that commissioner Rob Manfred unilaterally implements the changes he seeks. Those changes include a pitch clock and a restriction on catcher mound visits.

Manfred said, “My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players. But if we can’t get an agreement, we are going to have rule changes in 2018, one way or the other.”

The players have made several suggestions aimed at reducing the length of games, such as amending replay review rules, strictly monitoring down time between innings, and bringing back bullpen carts.

It is believed that MLB is proposing a pitch clock of 20 seconds. If a pitcher takes too long between pitches, he will have a ball added to the count. If the hitter takes too long, then he will have a strike added to the count.