New rules on home-plate plays may see adjustments
Early concerns over positioning could lead to changes; transfer plays also discussed
Major League Baseball and the Players Association are reportedly discussing possible tweaks to rules involving home-plate collisions and transfer plays.
FoxSports.com reported that union officials met with MLB executives this week to express their concern over these issues, which have grown out of the introduction of expanded replay and the new regulations intended to reduce injuries resulting from runners attempting to bowl over catchers.
MLB made it clear when the changes were introduced that adjustments were likely to be necessary.
Regarding plays at the plate, there has been some confusion about the positioning of the catcher as he waits for the throw. Runners are supposed to be given a lane to slide to, but in recent games in Philadelphia and Cincinnati, that did not appear to be the case. In both instances, the runners were called out and a video review upheld the on-field decision.
"We need more information," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said.
Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa, who works with the Commissioner's Office, suggested that catchers should be "required" to give runners a part of the plate. In Spring Training, teams were told to "encourage them to do so; after they have the ball they are allowed to block the plate.
"If we allow the catcher to stand there in front of the plate and it's not a violation, then -- our managers are going to say, 'Whoa, wait a minute. We were teaching our guys to slide, because they had something to slide to,'" La Russa told FoxSports.com.
"If that's taken away, we're going to get to exactly where we started. We're going to be encouraging collisions rather than trying to avoid them. What we hope is that if we correct this initial positioning, at least then we won't have runners as soon as they make a turn deciding, 'I've got to plow this guy.' "
The other issue on the table is the new, stricter interpretation of the transfer rule. That has resulted in some disputed plays already this season and the thought that a less literal application of the rule could make more sense.
According to FoxSports.com, the transfer question will be discussed in a conference call with members of the World Umpires Association early next week and that changes in both rules is considered likely.
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.