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Manfred near final decision

PHOENIX (AP) — Commissioner Rob Manfred has made “additional progress” toward decisions on two of the first three cases under Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy and he expects an announcement in the next couple of days.

“The substance of this policy uses a just cause standard and also creates kind of a clean slate,” Manfred said, speaking Monday during his visit to the Cactus League in Arizona. “I am giving really thorough consideration to the cases that I have in front of me and thinking their relevance obviously to the individual players, the individual facts most important, but also with an eye toward starting something new. It’s important to try to get these as right as possible. … We’re close to having an announcement with respect to two of the three.”

Manfred, who spoke three days after a media availability in Bonita Springs, Florida, would not specify which two cases he was going to rule on first. MLB is investigating New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman, Colorado Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes and Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig.

Acquired by the Yankees from the Cincinnati Reds in a December trade, Chapman is under investigation for an incident at his house in Florida in October involving his girlfriend. Chapman is alleged to have fired a gun during the incident.

Prosecutors declined to file charges. Chapman has said he would appeal any suspension to baseball’s arbitrator, his right under the policy.

Reyes is alleged to have assaulted his wife on Halloween in a Hawaii hotel and is scheduled to go on trial April 4.

Puig was involved in an argument with his sister at a Miami bar on Nov. 25. According to the Miami Police Department, Puig and a bouncer at the bar were involved in a fight after Puig was asked to leave following the argument with his sister. Puig was left with a swollen left eye and “minor bumps and bruises” to his face.

Manfred touched on several other topics during his meeting with the media in Arizona.

While the idea of expansion remains intriguing to Manfred, he said nothing would happen until a new collective bargaining agreement is in place. He said preliminary discussions on a new CBA would likely happen with union head Tony Clark and others during spring training. The current CBA expires Dec. 1.

“The idea of having nice even numbers in each league would be a good thing,” he said of adding a club each to the American and National Leagues. “The timeline, it’s not immediate. It’s not a topic we would begin to consider until we have a new agreement in place.”

Also, Manfred said there are discussions about a regular-season game in Europe though it might need to be at a non-traditional time in the schedule given weather considerations.

Regular-season games in Puerto Rico and Cuba also are in the works.

“We are interested in playing somewhere in Europe, London in particular,” Manfred said.

For cities that have passed ordinances banning smokeless tobacco in ballparks and other sporting venues — such as San Francisco and Boston — Manfred said players must follow the law.

“With respect to the legalities, major league players are citizens,” he said. “Municipalities pass laws. We expect that our players will comply with those laws.”

When it comes to the small-budget Oakland Athletics, Manfred would like the team to work to find a suitable home in its current location while leaving it to the club to decide on the best site option.

“I would like the A’s to find a site that’s within their current market of Oakland,” he said. “That’s a local issue. I’m sure they’ll make a sound analysis and a good decision on the site they think is best.”