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Report: MLB ready to institute pitch clock

Major League Baseball is prepared to add new rules to speed up games in 2018 even if the Players Association doesn't sign off on the changes, ESPN reported Thursday.

With pace-of-game talks between MLB and the Players Association stalled, commissioner Rob Manfred is prepared to institute a 20-second pitch clock, sources told the network. MLB may also put a restriction on catcher mound visits in 2018.

Manfred said late last year he preferred to negotiate a deal with the players before proceeding, "but if we can't get an agreement, we are going to have rule changes in 2018, one way or the other.''

Any rules changes require the approval of MLB owners, who will hold their quarterly meetings Feb. 1 in Los Angeles.

MLB games averaged three hours, 6 minutes last season to set a record.

Players Association representatives are contending that games can be shortened through revisions in instant replay, stricter monitoring of the down time between innings and even bringing back bullpen carts for pitching changes.

The proposed 20-second clock would add a ball to the count for violations by a pitcher or a strike for an infraction by the batter.