MINNEAPOLIS -- If Hank Aaron and Joe Torre never had to step out of the batter's box during their playing days, baseball commissioner Bud Selig doesn't see why Dustin Pedroia and Derek Jeter have to be any different.
In response to a question about umpire Joe West's public criticism of the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, Selig said Monday that Major League Baseball is looking at ways to keep play moving at a reasonable rate.
"It's the pace of the game is what one has to look at," said Selig, who attended the grand opening of the Minnesota Twins' new ballpark. "The sport is so popular now that we just ought to do everything we can to make sure we're doing what we can."
Last week West told the Record of New Jersey that the Yankees and Red Sox were "pathetic and embarrassing" for dragging out games during their season-opening series. The public criticism rankled members of both teams, who routinely play games on national television that last longer than the typical contest.
Longer commercial breaks, veteran hitters who work deep into counts and players who like to step out of the box regularly to adjust batting gloves, check signs and take a breath all contribute to pushing games well past 3 hours.
Selig declined to comment specifically about West speaking out, but did say that the special committee he assembled in December to look at on-field matters is discussing the "pace of game" subject.
"It isn't the time of the game, it's the pace of the game," Selig said. "That's the point."
Selig has spoken to Aaron and Torre recently about the issue, and said both told him they rarely stepped out of the box during at-bats when they were playing. Selig also lamented the pitcher who takes a lap around the mound between each delivery.
When asked about hitters being denied timeouts on occasion during that Yankees-Red Sox series, Selig said he would review that before commenting.