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Larry Lucchino on D&C: Tom Werner introduced idea of implementing pitch clock in commissioner presentation

08.15.14 at 10:07 am ET
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Red Sox president Larry Lucchino joined Dennis & Callahan Friday morning to discuss the commissioner election results, Roger Clemens and the state of the team. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Major League Baseball owners elected Rob Manfred to succeed Bud Selig as commissioner of the sport, beating out Red Sox chairman Tom Werner by a final 30-0 vote on the sixth ballot.

“I absolutely thought there was a possibility that Tom could win it,” Lucchino said. “He was not some kind of protest candidate. He was a guy that was there full of ideas. He made, in my opinion, the best presentation of the group and had some real passionate support so I think there was indeed a possibility of him being elected.

“Having said that, it went several ballots. I think the selection that we made, as Tom said very graciously afterwards yesterday, was a very good one. [Manfred] is a very experienced person and I think he benefitted, as the league did, from the process because a lot of the issues and threats to the game, challenges facing us in the future that were articulated by Tom, I think that dialogue will lead to a better game of baseball going forward.”

Manfred has been MLB’s chief operating officer since the end of the 2013 season and has worked in the game full-time since 1998. He becomes the 10th commissioner in the history of the sport.

“Certainly he’s a different person than Bud Selig,” Lucchino said. “As a person with a different temperament, different background, it’s hard to predict specifically what will be different. But his management style will be different, the league office and commissioner’s office will be anchored in New York City. As a witness to the general notion of the debate yesterday, I think Rob will feel a mandate to bring about some change in the way baseball governs itself.

“Tom articulated five challenges facing the game and I think there was general agreement with Rob in several of them. I think you’re going to see a change in the product coming forth; I think you’re going to see a serious drive for a younger and more diverse fan base; I think you’re going to see a more modern approach to technology and a general effort to grow the game.”

One of the biggest ideas Lucchino said Werner presented in his display was the implementation of a pitch clock to help quicken the pace of play, something Manfred told USA Today after his election that he would be open to.

“That was actually part of the Tom Werner platform, considering more aggressive action such as a pitch clock or between-innings clock to make sure the breaks didn’t last longer than they were scheduled to make,” Lucchino said. “And I’m glad to hear that. Rob did not say that in his breakdown presentation to the smaller group that I was in so I didn’t know that he had adopted that, or at least has an open mind toward that.

“I think that’s a very positive step. We have a rule that says the pitcher is supposed to pitch within 12 seconds of the time he receives the ball when there’s nobody on base. As far as I know I can’t remember the last time it was ever enforced, but that’s in the rule book.”

Clemens was one of four inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame on Thursday. When asked if the Sox will retire his number, Lucchino said, “There has been no discussion on that subject that I have been a party to.” Lucchino was also mum when asked whether or not he believed Clemens used performance-enhancing drugs.

“I don’t have an answer to that question,” Lucchino said. “I did go down to see him at one point when we were trying to bring him back here when we arrived here in 2002 and 2003, and his workouts were legendary. He showed us an indoor basketball court and weight room that he had at his place and the pace and intensity of his workouts was a subject of discussion. I heard from other folks, third parties about it too.

“So I do think he worked extremely hard and intensely. But I’m not going to the question of whether or not there is any evidence or admission about PEDs.”

Following are more highlights from the interview. For more on the Red Sox, go to weei.com/redsox.

On the reports of the Sox making an aggressive offer for Jon Lester in the offseason: “Even that, I think, is too close to the [tampering] line. We love Jon Lester, I’ll say that. We wish him good luck. When he’s a free agent we’ll be free to talk about it.”

On the possibility of next season’s ace being acquired in the offseason: “That’s a hard question because there are so many young pitchers in our organization, some of whom we’ve only seen a little bit of and gotten a sense of their future possibilities and their high ceilings.

“Certainly we haven’t seen Henry Owens. I’m not projecting him to be at the top of the rotation, but he has top-of-the-rotation stuff. And there’s other pitchers we may obtain on the trade market. It’s actually impossible to say, but I do think it’s possible to have Clay Buchholz returning to his career norm or there’s a possibility of a younger pitcher stepping up.”

On whether or not Manny Ramirez should be in the Red Sox Hall of Fame: “I don’t know. I think he was an extraordinary player when he was here, and I think he certainly should be a candidate. That’s all I’ll say.”

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