NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball sent a memo to teams and umpires clarifying this year’s experimental rule intended to limit collisions at home plate, saying runners should not be called safe if the ball clearly beats them.
The rule, announced in February, says a catcher can’t block the plate if he doesn’t have the ball. There have been several disputed calls, including a pair of decisions in the last 5 1/2 weeks that led to runners being called safe after video review.
The guidelines sent to teams Tuesday say the catcher’s positioning shouldn’t change the call when the throw clearly arrives ahead of the runner. They also say if the catcher is entirely in fair territory, he should not be considered to have blocked the plate. Photo examples were included.
“It’s basically the same thing, but the officials in New York got to use a little bit of common sense,” Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “If you’re out by 40 feet ... let’s not call that guy safe because of that.”
The new guidelines were tested immediately when Tampa Bay left fielder Matt Joyce threw out the New York Yankees’ Stephen Drew trying to score in the fifth inning Tuesday night. Ryan Hanigan gave Drew no lane to the plate as the Rays’ catcher waited for the throw, which arrived in plenty of time.