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Rob Manfred on Sept. call-ups: 18 pitchers in a game not a good thing

TORONTO -- Asked Tuesday whether he liked seeing games that feature 17 or 18 relievers because of all the September call-ups, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred replied, "I don't think 18 pitchers in a game is a good thing.''

Manfred was asked about September rosters during a news conference before the Blue Jays' 5-2 extra-inning win over the Orioles in the American League wild-card game. There has been increasing talk about changing the rules regarding September call-ups in recent years, with one idea being that teams would have to designate a set number of players for each game.

"September call-ups were non-controversial for years,'' Manfred said. "I think the controversy has arisen because of changes that have taken place in the game. There are so many relievers, so many matchups, that it has made the presence of the extra players so much more visible as far as the pace of our games. I do think it would make sense to get to a situation where we way play closer to the rules we play the rest of the year.''

Manfred was also questioned about a possible award named in honor of Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez, who died in a boating accident last week.

"The shock of this situation has occupied us through the last week,'' Manfred said. "I understand there are some strong feelings on this topic. It's really not the right time of the year to be thinking about additional awards because of the playoffs, but it's an issue we will talk about during the offseason.

"Obviously, we recognize the significance Jose had with the Marlins' franchise. And the fact that he was symbolic of the next generation of players in Major League Baseball and not just the Marlins is really significant.''

Earlier Tuesday, Toronto manager John Gibbons said he wasn't crazy about having his season determined by one game, but that he thought the format is good for baseball. Manfred generally agreed.

"We just had the final day of the season where there were all sorts of meaningful baseball games. And most of those games were related to the fact we have two wild-card teams. That's important,'' Manfred said. "I think the unappealing nature of the one-game playoff encourages teams to play through to win their division. Winning the division should be paramount. Those are the benefits I see associated with the [format].

"In terms of the one game, I understand that baseball [hasn't had many] one-game knockouts, but I do think these games get our playoff season off to a really exciting start."

With Tuesday's wild-card game being held in the only current Canadian city with a team, Manfred was asked about expansion and a possible return to Montreal. He said the collective bargaining agreement with the players needs to be settled first, as well as the stadium situations in Oakland and Tampa Bay.

He also said that any expansion talk would include owner debate on asset allocations shifting from 1/30th to 1/32nd.

Manfred did, however, say, "That in terms of schedule and format, 32 teams is a nice number for us.''