NEW YORK — Major League Baseball and its players have banned most home plate collisions but left open an exception if the catcher has the ball and is blocking the runner’s direct path to home plate.
A new rule, 7.13, was adopted by MLB and the players’ association on a one-year experimental basis, the sides said Monday.
A comment attached to the rule states “the failure by the runner to make an effort to touch the plate, the runner’s lowering of the shoulder, or the runner’s pushing through with his hands, elbows or arms, would support a determination that the runner deviated from the pathway in order to initiate contact with the catcher in violation.”
“It stops guys just going out of their way just to try to dislodge the baseball when they (catchers) have the plate,” Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
A runner who violates the rule shall be declared out even if the catcher drops the ball. If a catcher blocks home plate without possession of the ball, the runner shall be safe. However, a catcher may block the plate to field a throw if the umpire determines the catcher could not have otherwise fielded the ball and that contact with the runner could not have been avoided.
“We believe 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,” new union head Tony Clark said. “We will monitor the rule closely this season before discussing with the commissioner’s office whether the rule should become permanent.”
The umpire crew chief can use the new video-review system to determine whether the rule was violated.
AP Sports Writer Stephen Hawkins in Surprise, Ariz., contributed to this report.
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