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Rob Manfred says Jenrry Mejia’s ‘conspiracy’ allegation off base

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred talks

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred talks with media prior to a game between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 5, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. Credit: Getty Images / Ed Zurga

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Rob Manfred visited Kauffman Stadium Tuesday primarily to present the Royals with their World Series rings, but before doing so he held a wide-ranging news conference.

Among other things he took strong issue with former Mets closer Jenrry Mejia, supported the continued absence of the designated hitter in the National League and said he hopes to make a ruling on Jose Reyes’ status within days.

Some of this thoughts on those subjects and more:

On Mejia, currently serving a lifetime ban after three failed drug tests, asserting MLB had a “conspiracy” against him:

“The allegations made by Mr. Mejia’s attorney are utterly and completely without factual foundation, and I think we have been pretty clear about that. And I don’t think it’s ever a positive in any relationship when somebody goes out and says things that aren’t true.

“Having said that, he has a right to file for reinstatement. If and when he does that I will give that request for reinstatement fair consideration.”

On the Rockies’ Reyes, whose status remains in limbo after he was cleared by police on a domestic violence charge when his wife declined to testify:

“The ability of law enforcement to provide us with information, that only goes up. They have more flexibility to provide us with information once the criminal process comes to an end, one way or the other . . . We’re trying to take advantage of that additional flexibility to get all of the information that’s available as quickly as possible.

“I do feel some pressure on this one now because obviously Jose’s on administrative leave. I’d like to get all the information and deal with this one, I guess the best I can tell you, in days as opposed to weeks.”

On New York joining the growing list of cities that effectively has banned the use of smokeless tobacco in stadiums:

“We have long been on the side of getting smokeless tobacco off the field. It’s been banned in the minor leagues for a number of years. In multiple rounds of bargaining we’ve made proposals to the MLBPA about limiting the use of smokeless tobacco on the field.

“So in general we see the legislation that has been passed as a positive. It is a health risk for our players that we’d like to avoid. Enforcement of those laws are something that is within the responsibility of local law enforcement. On the other hand we expect our players to follow the law, whatever it is, on any topic.”

On the TV carriage disputes that are limiting how many fans can watch the Dodgers in Los Angeles and the more recent one involving Comcast’s 900,000 customers in YES’ distribution area:

“We are in regular communication to the parties to both carriage disputes to which you refer. Unfortunately we don’t have a seat at that table, and it’s hard to have any meaningful influence on that process.

“Having said that, it is important for baseball to have full distribution of its games. It’s one thing to go 20 or 30 days with a little dispute. Two or three years is very disturbing particularly with an iconic franchise in Vin Scully’s last year, and I’m hopeful that the parties will find a way out of the woods in L.A.”

On the future of the league’s differing rules for the designated hitter:

“I can honestly tell you, if people didn’t ask me about the DH I would literally never think about it. I’ll tell you why: The leagues are important competitive devices for us. It’s how we play up to become the World Series champion. Now that our business is unified, and we don’t have league presidents and all that, the principal distinguishing feature between the leagues is DH or no DH. And I think that’s kind of important for us.

“I also believe that the debate surrounding the DH generates a tremendous around of conversation about baseball and I’m a huge believer that when people are talking about our game it generally is a plus for us. So I’m a status quo guy on the DH. I understand why in the category of neatness counts that some people would prefer to have one rule.

“I guess I’m just not that neat a thinker. I’m perfectly comfortable with where we are.”

On the extension of netting farther down the lines in major- league stadiums to protect fans:

“I hope that we found the right balance on the issue of netting. Obviously fan safety is our first concern, and we felt it was appropriate to make a recommendation to the clubs about expanding the netting. By the same token, we do understand and appreciate for some of our very best fans who come 81 times a year the netting is an issue and we try to strike an appropriate balance.

“It is also important to remember the focus on the issue of fan choice as well, to make more information available to fans as well so if they were concerned about the safety issues it would be easier for them to find locations where they would be protected by netting.”

On MLB’s relationship with Cuba:

“Short term our key objective is to get to the point where Cuban players can come to the United States, sign with major- league organizations, play professional baseball and return home. We want to get out of the situation in which players are forced to literally take risks with their lives to get out of Cuba and come here and play. We would just like to get that immigration situation rationalized.

“Longer term my overwhelming impression from Cuba is that Cuba is one of those countries where baseball is deeply embedded in the culture. In general we do well in countries like that and I would hope the Cuban economy would develop in a way that would provide us with economic opportunity in Cuba as well.”

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