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Commissioner: Still no timeline for end of Cardinals investigation

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CLEVELAND • While Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred described the process as “ongoing” with a hopeful resolution on the horizon, it is apparent that his office does not want to impose any deadlines or timelines on the investigation into a Cardinals executive’s illegal hacking of another team’s database.

Manfred reiterated Wednesday, before Game 2 of the World Series, that the intent of the investigation is to be thorough. He has previously described his wish to not let it linger deep into this offseason.

The commissioner declined further comment.

This past winter, Chris Correa, the Cardinals’ former scouting director, was sentenced to more than 40 months in prison for breaking federal law by accessing the Astros’ internal scouting reports without permission. The Cardinals organization could face punishment from baseball as a result, and the commissioner’s power is broad when it comes to financial punishment. It’s possible the Cardinals also could have their draft picks or amateur spending limited.

The Cardinals have insisted that they are able to conduct business “as usual” entering the offseason without preparing for penalties that could alter or restrain their approach.

During an impromptu news conference with a handful of reporters Wednesday, Manfred touched on other topics, the most significant of which was a new collective bargaining agreement with the players’ union. Negotiations continue in New York between Manfred’s staff and the Major League Baseball Players’ Association, and Manfred said the timing of a new deal is still expected around the end of the World Series — shortly before it or after it.

A new agreement could assure as much as 27 consecutive years of labor peace since the bitter work stoppage that cost the game the 1994 World Series.

“There are certain natural deadlines that kind of flow around the end of the World Series and then through the expiration date of the agreement on Dec. 1,” Manfred said. “Each of the last couple of times we’ve either gotten it done during the World Series or a few days afterwards. I remain optimistic that we’re going to be in that same window.”

Among the items discussed by the leagues and the players has been an international draft, medical privacy and analysis of players, and international play. Major League Baseball has explored the possibility of exhibition games or a regular-season series in London, again in Japan, or possibly in Cuba, where MLB had one game this past spring.

The World Series arrival in Cleveland has also brought attention to Cleveland’s logo, which appears on their caps and throughout their official uniform. “Chief Wahoo” is the wide-grinned and red-skinned cartoon that has been described as insensitive, drawing the same scrutiny as the Washington football team’s name. Manfred met with Cleveland’s ownership about the logo, concerns he has heard annually, and the commissioner suggested that once the whirl of the World Series clears it will be revisited.

“I know that that particular logo is offensive to some people, and all of us at Major League Baseball understand why,” Manfred said. “Logos are, however, primarily a local matter. The local club makes decisions about its logos. Fans get attached to logos. They become part of a team’s history. So it’s not easy as coming to the conclusions and realizing that the logo is offensive to some segment.”

Kluber on short rest

Cleveland will turn to ace Corey Kluber on short rest to start Game 4, on Saturday at Chicago’s Wrigley Field, and that’s just the beginning of the condensed schedule Terry Francona has planned for his rotation. The Cleveland manager said all three of his available starting pitchers will go on short rest from there, and that would allow Kluber to return and pitch a decisive Game 7, if there is one.

Francona removed Kluber before the righthander threw his 90th pitch in Game 1’s shutout, and the move hinted at Francona’s plan. The manager explained that he didn’t reveal the plan because it wasn’t “fair to him.” Francona has not used a pitcher on short rest in his previous World Series. Kluber never has made a start on less than four days of rest.

Saturday’s will come on three.

“He’s all set to pitch; that was probably our Plan A,” Francona said. He added: “The reasons I haven’t done it before is because I didn’t think it would help us. I think people lose sight of fact that you’ve got to win four. You’re not trying to prolong the series. I tried not to fall in ever to just relenting to like, well, we’re losing so let’s move everybody up.”

Hank Aaron: ‘Banks is smiling’

Hall of Famer Hank Aaron visited Cleveland on Wednesday to present the two awards that carry his name and go each year to the top offensive performers in each league. Aaron, sitting beside National League winner Kris Bryant, took a moment to reflect on the Cub who wasn’t present, wasn’t around the see the team finally win a pennant.

“I don’t want anybody to walk out of here and say Hank Aaron pulled (for the Cubs) but the reason for that is because of my friend who is no longer here, Mr. Ernie Banks,” Aaron said. “He was an idol of mine. I loved him. And I’m sure wherever he is today, he’s smiling. ... I just want to say I’m smiling with him. I just wish that he could be here to play one more game, as he always said.”

Banks died in January 2015.

The Aaron award presentation allowed a sports icon who retired in 1976 to honor a player born in 1975 and another born in 1992. Bryant, a second-year Cub, and Boston’s David Ortiz, a two-decade vet, won the Hank Aaron awards for their respective leagues, and both are contenders for the MVP awards. Bryant, 24, led the NL with 121 runs scored and backed that with a .292 average, a .554 slugging percentage, 102 RBIS and 39 home runs. In his victory lap before retirement all Ortiz did was lead the majors in doubles (48), slugging percentage (.620), and OPS (1.021). He set a record for the most homers (38) by a player older than 40, and a few weeks shy of turning 41 he’s set on retiring.

Aaron took a moment to tell him what that’s like.

“I know what it means when you play that long and had the kind of career that you had, the way that you had it,” Aaron said. “You can walk on the field and feel proud of yourself.”

Extra bases

• Former Cardinals outfielder Jason Heyward did not crack the Cubs’ starting lineup for the second consecutive game, meaning manager Joe Maddon has found three alternatives for right field because of Heyward’s profound slump. Jorge Soler started in right, following Chris Coghlan, who started there for Game 1, and Albert Almora Jr., who appeared as a defensive sub.

• Game 1 of the World Series drew a 12.6 rating and 19.37 million viewers, the most since Game 1 of the 2009 series that featured the Yankees against Philadelphia.

• With three hits in Game 1 this week, Illinois native Ben Zobrist joined Babe Ruth as the only players with three-hit games in back-to-back World Series openers. Zobrist did it for the Royals last fall and the Cubs this; Ruth did it in 1927 and ‘28 for the Yankees.

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