could change strike zone, eliminate traditional intentional walks, report says

Major League Baseball could change its strike zone and do away with the traditional intentional walk as soon as next season, according to a report from ESPN.The league's competition committee agreed to both changes during owners meetings this week, the report from Jayson Stark says, citing unnamed sources. MORE: Mock Draft: Who do the Phillies want at No. 1?Under the proposal, the strike zone would begin at the top of a hitter's knees, rather than at the bottom of the knee as the current rule states. The move is a reaction to umpires calling an increasing number of strikes below the knees, the ESPN report says.  The other major change would end the need for pitchers to throw four balls out of the strike zone for intentional walks, meaning a team would only

need to signal for a free pass and send the hitter to first base without hesitation.'s playing rules committee would need to approve the rules before they would take effect. The proposal would also be presented to the Players Association during negotiations for the next labor agreement, ESPN reported. But because players aren't required to sign off on such changes from the playing rules committee, the new rules could take effect next season without the union's approval. The changes are said to be a response to concerns about pace of play and what commissioner Rob Manfred calls "pace of action." While eliminating the intentional walk would quicken games, the new strike zone would be implemented with the goal of hitters putting more balls in play and creating more action, the report said.