MLB considering guidelines for racist taunts, commissioner says

Boston's Fenway Park in undated photo

CBS Boston

MINNEAPOLIS -- Days after a fan at Fenway Park directed racial slurs at Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said he is determined to "provide our players with an environment where they feel comfortable in every major league stadium that they play." 

Manfred spoke Friday before the Minnesota Twins hosted the Boston Red Sox, who were at the center of the controversy this week after Jones, who is black, heard the taunts . Another fan was removed and banned for life from Fenway Park the next day for making a racist remark, and other black players throughout the big leagues said it is a common occurrence to be subjected to such behavior by fans. 

Manfred said MLB is surveying all 30 teams to see how they handle such situations "as a prelude to giving consideration to some more industry wide guidelines in this area." 

"We want to make sure that we know exactly what the clubs are doing before we start recommending changes," Manfred said. "We're in the process of gathering information right now." 

Manfred did not comment on specific changes or guidelines being considered, but said more would be forthcoming after officials get the information from the teams.

The series between the Red Sox and Orioles had plenty of tension between the two teams, and Manfred tried to cool a feud that extended back to April 21 when Boston's Dustin Pedroia was injured in a slide by Baltimore star Manny Machado.

Pitchers for both teams took retaliatory measures against opposing hitters, buzzing hitters with pitches and hitting them. Orioles starter Kevin Gausman was ejected Wednesday after hitting Boston's Xander Bogaerts on a hip just a few hours after Manfred and MLB chief baseball officer Joe Torre held a conference call with representatives from both teams and told them "enough is enough."

Manfred said it was the first time he had personally gotten involved in such a situation, saying one of the pitches "was of grave concern to us."

"I felt it was different than a normal 'I hit your guy, you hit my guy,'" he said. "As a matter of fact, it had persisted so long it was hard to trace back who had hit who when, whose turn it was."

Red Sox manager John Farrell said on Friday that having the commissioner get involved resonated with both teams, and they went through the series finale on Thursday without incident.

"I think any time a mandate comes from the leader of our industry, it sends a strong and clear message to whatever the issue might at hand and I think it was very effective," Farrell said. "He commented that it was the first time he had been involved at this level or this type of interaction, so I think it helped."

Manfred said some of the animosity may have been generated because the Red Sox and Orioles met seven times in the last two weeks. He said he planned to have communications with union head Tony Clark to see if the rules put in place to curb such confrontations need to be revisited.

"It's a concern of ours because it's a safety issue," Manfred said. "We think about things we've done in recent years, catchers, second base sliding rules, safety rules, obviously this is a similar player safety issue."