GM Meetings notes: Looking at an expanded playoff format

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GM Meetings notes: Looking at an expanded playoff format

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- One of the topics discussed among baseball's general managers here is the notion of an expanded playoff format which would add a second wild-card team in each league.

That issue was part of a larger discussion focused on upcoming labor talks between MLB and the Players Association. The current pact runs out after the 2011 season.

Any change in the playoff format would require approval of the Players Association. Rob Manfred, baseball's point man in the labor negotiations, made it seem unlikely that an expanded playoff field could be put in place for the 2011 season.

"If there were to be a change in 2011,'' explained Manfred, "it would have to be done as a mid-term modification. That's a difficult trick to pull off. I think that pulling a single issue, in the run-up to bargaining, is, as I said before, a tricky thing to undertake.''

A survey of a number of general managers Tuesday revealed general support for an expanded playoff format, though few were willing to make specific recommendations.

Theo Epstein said the organization continues to interview candidates to manage at Triple-A Pawtucket, a vacancy created by Torey Lovullo being hired to be part of John Farrell's staff in Toronto.

Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg, who was hired Monday to manage the Phillies' Triple-A affiliate, revealed that he had interviewed for the Pawtucket position.

A number of internal candidates are in the running, though Epstein declined to name them. He hinted there could be more interviews coming.

Epstein said the major-league coaching staff is expected to return intact. The club, however, is holding off making an announcement until the New York Mets hire a manager. Bench coach DeMarlo Hale was interviewed for that position, though it does not seem he's one of the finalists.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Merloni: Pablo Sandoval is the key to the bottom of Red Sox order

Merloni: Pablo Sandoval is the key to the bottom of Red Sox order

The guys on The Baseball Show discuss Pablo Sandoval lighting it up in spring training and if he could continue that in the regular season.

Sale hurls five shutout innings, Sandoval has two hits as Sox romp, 7-2

Sale hurls five shutout innings, Sandoval has two hits as Sox romp, 7-2

Chris Sale threw five shutout innings and Pablo Sandoval continued his torrid spring with two more hits as the Red Sox routed the Twins, 7-2, Sunday at the Twins' Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers.

Red Sox-Twins box score

Sale allowed six hits, with one walk and six strikeouts, in his 91-pitch outing. Manager John Farrell had told reporters before the game that Sale was scheduled to throw between 95 and 100 pitches. He has 26 strikeouts and 2 walks in 21 spring-training innings.

Sandoval lifted his exhibition average to .370 with a 2-for-3 performance, which included a double.

The Red Sox also got home runs from Christian Vazquez, Andrew Benintendi and Steve Selsky as they rallied from a 1-0 deficit with three runs in the seventh inning and four in the eighth.