MIAMI -- A day after the Mets alleged MLB’s blocking-the-plate rules lack clarity, manager Terry Collins indicated that he expects the rule will be changed for the 2015 season.
Collins expects MLB will implement a college-style rule in which baserunners must slide into home on contested plays and catchers are prohibited from dropping down and using their shin guards to prevent access to the plate.
An MLB spokesman said he had not yet heard a firm resolution that the must-slide rule will be instituted for next season.Rob Foldy/Getty Images
Lane or no lane, David Wright is tagged out by Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the eighth inning Friday.
Still, Mets GM Sandy Alderson chairs the playing-rules committee, so Collins ought to have insight.
This year’s rule largely prevents runners from barreling into catchers. It also mandates catchers provide a lane for the runner to the plate, unless the catcher already possesses the baseball. It was imposed as part of a joint agreement between MLB and the players’ union.
For 2015, MLB has the right to unilaterally impose its own rule without negotiating with the MLBPA.
“No. 1, the catcher is not going to be able to drop down and block the plate,” Collins said about his understanding of next season’s change. “And you’re not going to be able to run him over.”
The topic took center stage in Thursday’s 3-2 Marlins win against the Mets.
Marcell Ozuna’s eighth-inning throw to the plate beat baserunner David Wright by about 10 feet. Wright was clearly tagged out, but the Mets alleged catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia had already set up to block the plate before receiving the baseball, depriving Wright of a lane to the plate.
After being reviewed in New York, the call on the field was upheld that ruled Wright out.
Collins said he was able to review an overhead replay Saturday that showed Wright had a small lane to the plate in extreme foul territory. That was the shot umpires manning the review station in New York relied upon to uphold the out call.
“In retrospect, if you look at that, yeah, but he’s got to slide way out to get to it,” Collins said.
The manager likened it to a play between the Mets and Twins during spring training.
“[Joe] Mauer came in to score on a sacrifice fly and said he had absolutely no plate to score on,” Collins said. “They reviewed it and actually saw that even though the [catcher's] foot guarded the front section of that plate, the point of the plate was still open. You just don’t see it because of the [catcher's] body as you’re coming toward home plate. But as they reviewed it, the umpires said that’s a lane. That’s a lane to the plate. It allows the runner to slide outside and still be safe. As I saw the [Wright] replay today, I think that’s kind of what we saw.”
MLB executive Joe Torre, at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, told reporters that Wright actually had the right to run into Saltalamacchia because the catcher was in possession of the baseball and Wright would have had to alter his line to avoid the Marlin. Still, there are limitations to prevent injury to the catcher even in those circumstances. Wright still would have been prevented from lowering his shoulder to deliver a jolt.