LOS ANGELES — Arizona Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick is hoping Major League Baseball and the players’ association can work out a deal to improve pace of play without imposing changes on the union unilaterally.

Commissioner Rob Manfred has long vowed to put the rules in place for the upcoming season with or without an agreement, but he says his preference is for a deal and he is willing to negotiate the changes involving a pitch clock or limits on mound visits.

“We need to improve the pace of play, and as the Commissioner said very well, we need to really try to do it as partners with the players because that will make it work better than if Rob made a decision to do it on his own,” Kendrick said Wednesday after the first of two days of owners meetings near Beverly Hills.

MLB has the right to implement the proposal it made last offseason, which includes a 30-second clock between batters and a 20-second clock between pitches that would reset when a pitcher steps off the rubber and when he makes or feints a pickoff throw, according to details obtained by the AP.

Nine-inning games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes during the 2017 regular season and 3:29 during the postseason. Players have resisted a pitch clock while appearing slightly more amenable to limits on mound visits.

“The absence of a clock is both a blessing and a curse,” Kendrick said. “It’s more the pace of how the game flows, and there are times when it doesn’t flow well. It’s our responsibility to the fans to try to help that. There’s a lot of interest within baseball and I think on the players’ side as well.”

Manfred is expected to address the issue when he speaks at the conclusion of the meetings Thursday.

Kendrick met with some of his fellow owners to discuss the effect of the new tax laws on player trades and pending action in the Supreme Court over legalized gambling.

“That’s an area of concern for us,” he said.

DIAMONDBACKS: Arizona finalized an $8.25 million, two-year contract with free-agent catcher Alex Avila.

Avila, 31, fills a roster spot vacated by Chris Iannetta, who shared the catching duties last year but left for an $8.5 million, two-year deal with Colorado.

Last season, Avila hit .264 with 14 home runs and 49 RBI for the Tigers and Cubs.

TRADE: Left-hander Josh Smoker was traded from the Mets to the Pirates for minor league left-hander Daniel Zamora and cash.

Smoker, 29, was 3-0 with a 4.70 ERA for the Mets as a rookie in 2016, then went 1-2 with a 5.11 ERA and 68 strikeouts in 561/3 innings last year.

Zamora, 24, was 2-4 with nine saves and a 1.76 ERA last year for Class A Bradenton and Double-A Altoona, striking out 63 in 561/3 innings.

RAYS: Tampa Bay fired its team physician after a video posted on YouTube included accusations of sexual abuse with a teenager who worked for him about a decade ago.

The Rays severed ties with Michael Reilly, 67, on Tuesday and notified Major League Baseball and St. Petersburg police about the allegations in the video, which was posted by the woman, now 26, on Jan. 17, the team’s general counsel John Higgins said in a statement.

Reilly denied the abuse allegations in a statement issued by attorney Cathleen Bell Bremmer. He said he was “deeply troubled” by them and called the tarnishing of his reputation “disturbing.” He said he had a relationship with the woman when she was an adult.

St. Petersburg police spokeswoman Sandra Bentril said investigators are trying to determine whether charges should be filed.

Reilly also resigned a similar post at St. Petersburg Catholic High School when school officials contacted him about the video, The Tampa Bay Times reported. He also served as team doctor for the Tampa Bay Lightning from 1992-2002.

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