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MLB's Rob Manfred says shorter schedule would mean lower pay

DENVER -- Not surprisingly, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred had a favorable reaction to Chicago Cubs starAnthony Rizzo's opinion that if baseball shortened its season, players should expect to be paid less.

"I think that Anthony's comments were realistic in the sense that he linked the fact that if, in fact, you're going to go to 154 games or some lower number of games, that players would have to be participants in that process," Manfred said speaking to the Associated Press Sports Editors on Friday. "They're going to work less, they're probably going to make less."

It's a stance the executive director of the players' union, Tony Clark, has openly been against for several years. He has said he doesn't think his players deserve a pay cut even if baseball decides to implement a shorter season, something Manfred again acknowledged has been discussed.

"We had a pretty significant internal discussion about 154, 158 right after I was elected commissioner," he said. "It was a topic that was hot in the industry at that point in time."

Rizzo, speaking on his weekly radio show on ESPN 1000 in Chicago on Tuesday, stressed that this was his "humble opinion" as the topic came up after the Cubs postponed their second consecutive game, which came in a month where they've already have five postponements because of weather.

"I think playing in the cold sucks," Rizzo said. "As a fan, you're going to a baseball game in April, and it's raining, snowing and [with] freezing rain. Is it really that much fun? That's my question."

Rizzo said he thought MLB teams played "too much baseball."

"Yes, guys are going to take pay cuts," Rizzo said. "But are we playing this game for the money or do we love this game? I know it's both. But in the long run it will make everything better."

Manfred seemed to agree but acknowledged it's a complicated issue, even without considering what the players' union wants.

"Were that [players] not significant enough, those financial ramifications are very different depending on the market in which a club operates," Manfred said. "So when you think about trying to get a consensus among the clubs, obviously money matters, one, and disproportionate money differentials make the issue even tougher, because you've got some clubs saying, 'Hey, it doesn't really hurt me that much,' other clubs saying, 'You know, it'll cost me millions and millions of dollars.' That's a difficult issue, internally."

There's no indication of real momentum toward a shorter season. But with a near record amount of cancellations because of poor weather this month, the topic is bound to come up again.

"This is kind of a freak April," Rizzo said.

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