When Chase Utley’s slide broke Ruben Tejada’s leg in Game 2 of a National League division series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Mets, the relatively common tactic of trying to break up a double play was put under a microscope, with many assuming it would force a change in baseball’s rules.
On Thursday, that change happened when Major League Baseball and the players’ union agreed to a reworking of the rules regarding slides, while potentially complicating matters by making “neighborhood plays” at second base reviewable.
“Our goal in amending the slide rule was to enhance player safety, reduce incidents of injury and to do it in a way that respects and preserves the bona fide hustle plays that are integral to our game,” Tony Clark, executive director of the players’ union, said in a statement. “I am optimistic that this new rule will accomplish those goals.”
Under the new policy for sliding, designated Rule 6.01(j), a slide to break up a double play will have to include a bona fide attempt to reach and remain on the base. Contact with the fielder is permissible, but the runner cannot change his path to initiate contact or engage in a “roll block.”
The plays will be subject to video review, and if it is determined that the runner did not engage in a bona fide slide attempt, interference will be called and both the runner and the batter can be called out.
Rangers sign Stubbs
Drew Stubbs agreed to a minor league deal with the Texas Rangers, and the outfielder was expected to be in their major league camp Saturday.
The completion of the deal was pending Stubbs passing a physical after getting to camp.
Stubbs spent the end of last season with Texas. He had signed a minor league deal in August after being released by Colorado.
The Rangers used Stubbs primarily as a defensive replacement and pinch-runner. He had only 21 at-bats in 27 regular-season games, then appeared in four of the five Division Series games for the AL West champions.
Molina suits up
St. Louis Cardinals star catcher Yadier Molina is hoping his injured thumb heals enough for him to play on opening day.
Recovering from surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb, Molina took part in his first catching drills of the spring Friday.
Molina put on the gear to catch slow-speed pitches and block balls from a pitching machine prior to the Cardinals’ full-team workout. He wore a splint under the glove to help protect his thumb.
“It feels good,” Molina said. “It’s getting stronger.”
He aims to play April 3 when the NL Central champions open at Pittsburgh.
Giants revive Romero
Veteran left-hander Ricky Romero is trying to revive a career derailed by injuries to both knees. An All-Star in 2011 with his original team, the Toronto Blue Jays, Romero hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2013.
The Giants signed him to a minor-league contract last May, then after granting his free agency re-signed him in November. Romero is throwing bullpen sessions during spring training and will get a look during workouts and games, grateful for a chance.
“It means a lot. It’s a change of scenery. You look around this clubhouse and you see a lot of talent,” Romero said. “I worked pretty hard this offseason to get healthy and I’m just taking it day by day.”