New York, NY, United States (4E Sports) – Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association have jointly approved an experimental rule intended to increase player safety by eliminating “egregious” collisions at home plate.
“There is nothing more sacred in the game than home plate, and baserunners want to do all they can to score a run, while catchers want to do their best to defend the plate — in many cases, at all costs,” said Tony Clark, executive director of the MLBPA.
“Therefore, as one might imagine, the issue of home-plate collisions is one that generates spirited debate among the players. Because of this, coming up with a rule change that allows both the runner and catcher a fair and equal opportunity to score and defend was our mandate,” he added.
Clark said the association believes the new experimental rule allows for the play at the plate to retain its place as one of the most exciting plays in the game while providing an increased level of protection to both the runner and the catcher.
With the timing, managers, coaches, players and umpires to use the entire Grapefruit and Cactus League schedules to acclimate themselves to the rule.
The highlights of the rule are:
• A runner may not run out of a direct line to the plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher, or any player, covering the plate. If he does, the umpire can call him out even if the player taking the throw loses possession of the ball.
• The catcher may not block the pathway of a runner attempting to score unless he has possession of the ball. If the catcher blocks the runner before he has the ball, the umpire may call the runner safe.
• All calls will be based on the umpire’s judgment. The umpire will consider such factors as whether the runner made an effort to touch the plate and whether he lowered his shoulder or used his hands, elbows or arms when approaching the catcher.
• Runners are not required to slide, and catchers in possession of the ball are allowed to block the plate. However, runners who do slide and catchers who provide the runner with a lane will never be found in violation of the rule.
• The expanded instant replay rules, which also go into effect this season, will be available to review potential violations of Rule 7.13.
Training materials will be distributed throughout Spring Training, but several teams had already begun to incorporate the anticipated changes into their workouts.
Major League Baseball and the MLBPA will form a committee of players and managers to review developments as the season progresses and to discuss the possible application of the new rule in 2015.