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March 6, 2017

Robert Manfred

Seoul, Korea

THE MODERATOR: We have with us the Commissioner of Major League Baseball, Rob Manfred.

Q. Have you had a chance to look at the venue here, and if MLB has a plan to host some sort of MLB exhibition or regular‑season game down the road in Seoul?
COMMISSIONER MANFRED: Well, I must confess, we had a little traffic problem getting here, so I haven't seen much of the venue yet. The reports on the stadium from everybody, I talked to a bunch of players at the hotel today who had been over here, were really positive about the facility. I think it's a great place for a WBC round.
In terms of our long‑term plans, we'd love to play a regular‑season game here in Korea. I think that we would need a venue a little bigger than this to make that work.

Q. Can you give us your thoughts on being here today and what this means to Major League Baseball?
COMMISSIONER MANFRED: Well, first of all, I am really excited to be here in Korea. It's my first trip to Korea. I think it's a real step forward for the WBC to have one of the pools hosted here in Korea.
Korea has been a great supporter of the event from day one, and obviously has had great success in the event. I think it's very important for us to recognize that support and success, by bringing some games here.
The WBC in general remains a huge priority for Major League Baseball. We're really committed to the event. We feel it's vital to the internationalization of the game, and we're excited to kick things off tonight.

Q. Is there any talk of expanding beyond 16 teams, and what format would that take if it happened?
COMMISSIONER MANFRED: We have talked‑‑ I mean, obviously we have qualifiers to get into the main event. I think that the most likely course of events would be an expansion of that qualifying round. Given the calendar that we're working with right now, more than 16 teams I think would be extremely difficult.
You know, the calendar remains maybe the most difficult aspect of this particular event, and we'll continue to discuss options with respect to that calendar.

Q. Last November, in many media, if this WBCcannot make any profit, this will be the last game, so can you explain about this, and did you get a satisfiable profit from this game?
COMMISSIONER MANFRED: First of all, the WBC has always been profitable, and there's been absolutely no discussion about the possibility of this being the last WBC.
I'm personally committed to this event. I think the owners of the major league clubs are committed to the event, and we see it as vital to the internationalization of the game.

Q. How about the Olympics?
COMMISSIONER MANFRED: How about the Olympics. Well, obviously we're pleased from the broadest possible perspective that baseball was included in the Olympic Programme for 2020.
We have yet to have detailed conversations with the baseball and softball federation about the exact format for the 2020 Olympics. So beyond that, it's difficult for me to comment. We look forward to having those conversations. We'll try to be as cooperative as possible.
But it has always been unlikely that Major League Baseball will shut its season down in order to accommodate the Olympics.

Q. Except for the U.S. and Dominican, many players were not able to participate in this game. So can you explain about the plan to how we can include more major leaguers in the tournament?
COMMISSIONER MANFRED: Individual major league players have a choice as to whether they want to participate in the event.
I don't foresee that particular aspect of the event changing. We worked very hard during the selection process, along with the MLB PA to make sure that we get as high‑quality rosters for all of the participating countries as we possibly can.
My own view is that the rosters are better this time than they have ever been. I think it will make for an exciting event. I do recognize, however, that because of the travel, there will always be some major league players who may not want to participate.

Q. Have you had any communication with the Korean baseball organization in terms of finding ways to communicate and improve the game together, whether it be adding more aspects of the major league game to Korea, or aspects of the Korean game to the major leagues?
COMMISSIONER MANFRED: We met with the Korean commissioner and his senior staff today at lunch. It's part of an ongoing dialogue that we have with the KBL that we have on issues of mutual concern, and we always talk when we meet about ways that the game to continue to evolve and be changed for the sake of our fans. Always looking to improve the game for the sake of the fans.

Q. Maybe this is not relevant to the game, but in MLB, I believe you are making an effort to speed up the game. So what is the ultimate goal?
COMMISSIONER MANFRED: Well, the ultimate, we are making an effort to make changes in the game that improve the pace of play, eliminate some of the downtime in the game, and increase the amount of action in the game as its played at the major league level currently.
And the ultimate goal of all of those changes, as with everything we do, is to make Major League Baseball the best possible entertainment product for our fans and respond to changes that have occurred in the game over the last couple of decades.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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