By UPI |

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred denies use of altered baseballs

July 9 (UPI) -- Commissioner Rob Manfred denied that Major League Baseball has juiced baseballs to create more home runs and offense following criticism from Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander.

Manfred also told reporters Tuesday that "there is no evidence from scientists that the ball is harder," but said "the drag of the baseball is less."

"Baseball has done nothing, given no direction for an alteration in the baseball," Manfred said. "The flaw in logic is that baseball wants more home runs. If you sat in owners meetings and listen to people on how the game is played, that is not a sentiment among the owners for whom I work.

"There's no desire among ownership to increase homers in the game. To the contrary, they are concerned about how many we have."

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Manfred's comments came one day after Verlander, who is starting in Tuesday night's All-Star Game for the American League, told ESPN that baseballs used this season are a "[expletive] joke." The pitcher said he believed that MLB altered balls to generate more offense.

"Major League Baseball's turning this game into a joke," Verlander said. "They own Rawlings, and you've got Manfred up here saying it might be the way they center the pill. They own the [expletive] company.

"We all know what happened. Manfred the first time he came in, what'd he say? He said, 'We want more offense.' All of a sudden he comes in, the balls are juiced? It's not coincidence. We're not idiots."

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Since Manfred took over as MLB commissioner in 2015, the league has seen an uptick in home runs.

MLB players blasted 3,691 homers in the first half of this season, putting them on pace to record 6,668 home runs this year. The single-season record is 6,105, which came in 2017.

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