GOODYEAR, Ariz.: Major League Baseball’s “experimental” rule 7.13 that details the league’s new stance on home plate collisions was met with guarded optimism by a handful of the team’s catchers and manager Terry Francona on Monday afternoon.
The Indians players and manager were just heading into the clubhouse of their spring training complex when they were greeted with the news that the highly anticipated rule already dubbed the “Buster Posey Rule” was finally agreed to after weeks of negotiations over the proper wording.
In essence, the rule will be implemented during the upcoming 2014 season on an experimental basis and forces runners to slide or avoid a head-on collision with a catcher on close plays at plate.
“It doesn’t seem like that big of a deal,” Francona said, having only had the opportunity to give the new rule a brief read before his daily meeting with the media. “I don’t think it’s going to be a lot of adjustment for catchers. I think the adjustment is going to come on the part of baserunners.”
While highlight-reel home plate collisions have been a part of baseball since the inception of the game, the gruesome leg injury in 2011 suffered by San Francisco Giants star catcher Posey was the final straw that spurred legislative action.
While the Indians hadn’t been afforded much time to read and fully digest the new rule by early Monday afternoon, a handful seemed optimistic that it was a step in the right direction to help protect stationary catchers who absorb the brunt of most collisions.
Veteran minor league catcher Luke Carlin sat at his locker with a copy of the printed rule in one hand while explaining to pitchers Josh Tomlin and Justin Masterson what it meant. He later tweeted a picture of a home plate collision and this comment from his @Carlinscorner Twitter handle: “I think the new MLB rule helps avoid collisions like this one.”
Had Rule 7.13 been in place in 2010, Tribe catcher Carlos Santana wouldn’t have suffered the leg injury and subsequent surgery that cost him the rest of the season after being run over by Boston’s Ryan Kalish. Under the new rule, Santana wouldn’t be able to block the plate without having possession of the baseball.
“I think it’s good,” said Santana, whose left leg was splayed across the plate to block it in anticipation of receiving the ball. “I like that MLB is doing that because of what I experienced four years ago. I think they made a good decision.”
Indians new full-time catcher Yan Gomes admitted he hadn’t had a chance to read the rule yet. But after a quick primer, he said it sounded a lot like the one upheld in college games.
“I don’t think it’s going to really change much of how we’re supposed to take a play at home plate,” Gomes said. “That’s pretty much what it was in college. If a play took you somewhere and you guys run into contact, it happens. … [But a baserunner] can’t just slide into the catcher.”
Stephanie Storm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Indians blog at https://ohio.com/indians.