PITTSBURGH -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle called it "open season" on catchers after Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo took out the legs of catcher Elias Diaz on a force play at home plate in the eighth inning of Monday's 7-0 win by the Cubs.
Rizzo was easily out at home on the ground ball hit to shortstop Sean Rodriguez, but as Diaz turned to throw to first base for the double play, Rizzo slid into his legs before crossing home plate. Diaz's throw sailed into right field, allowing two runs to score.
"My position and my question is that, at the end of the day, we've put a rule in at home plate to protect the catchers," Hurdle said after he was ejected. "Everybody is going to see the play and say this is the play you can make on the catcher on his most vulnerable position. He's completely exposed. He's completely out in front of the plate. He has no defense whatsoever."
Rizzo doesn't deny looking to make contact in order to break up the double play, but both the call on the field and the ensuing review claimed it was a legal slide.
"You have to go in and break the double play up," Rizzo said. "I'm not trying to hurt anyone. Plays like that are scary, but at the same time, you have to play hard."
Diaz agreed with his manager.
"In my personal opinion, I don't think it was a good slide," Diaz said through his interpreter. "I understand that there's old-school baseball, but we're not in old-school baseball anymore. There are new rules and things we've submitted to, and even us as catchers have mentally prepared ourselves for, and I don't agree that that's a legal slide."
Diaz stayed in the game, and he and Rizzo had a short conversation the next time he came to the plate. Hurdle said he was "surprised" the call wasn't overturned, and he subsequently got thrown out of the game, while his counterpart, Joe Maddon, nearly did too. Maddon's beef was with the idea that the play is even reviewable.
"It was a perfect play by Rizzo," Maddon said. "My concern is they are teaching fans the wrong thing. The fans' reaction to Rizz the next time he comes up indicates they think he did something wrong. ... That's how you should teach your kids to slide, to break up a double play at home plate."
Rizzo was booed when he came to bat in the ninth but said he was relieved that Diaz wasn't injured and sees both sides.
"If you flip it around and one of their guys did it to us, are we sitting here saying the same thing?" Rizzo said of calling it an illegal slide. "I don't think so. ... I appreciate a few of their guys saying to me, 'That's a clean play. Didn't look like you were trying to hit him.'
"It's one of those plays I'm sure will be talked about a little bit, but I don't think it's anything too crazy."
Diaz was asked if he almost came out of the game.
"For me to come out of that game, he needed to break my leg," Diaz said.