LOS ANGELES -- Catcher A.J. Ellis got an e-mail Tuesday from the players association that relayed MLB executive Joe Torre's attempts to clarify Rule 7.13 to all 30 major-league clubs. Torre's memo also went out Tuesday. Ellis had time to review the new guidelines and says he thinks it could help avoid an embarrassing call in a pennant race or in the playoffs.
"The initial integrity of the rule was player safety. I think the questionable calls we've seen, player safety was not a concern in those situations," Ellis said. "It was correctly following the new rule, but these adjustments are going to clear some of that up. If the player was clearly going to be out at home, we're not going to be as stringent on the catcher's setup. It's going to use these umpires' judgment, their baseball IQ to read the play and determine if it had any impact on the runner being safe or out."
The Dodgers, like many teams have had brushes with the vagaries of the rule. After he was awarded a run last week in Arizona because the umpires reviewed a Rule 7.13 call and noticed that catcher Miguel Montero tagged him with his glove while holding the ball in his bare hand, Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford said, "I don't understand it, to be honest with you. I just try to get it to the plate. I know I can't run into the catcher."
The new guidelines, obtained by ESPN.com's Jayson Stark, instruct umpires not to call a runner safe if the catcher blocks the plate if there is no evidence the catcher "hindered or impeded" the runner's path to the plate. The new guidelines take effect immediately.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly got the e-mail shortly before he took the field for the team's batting practice and glanced at it on his phone but hadn't had a chance to read it in detail.
"I think it's good that you get it out there. Better before than after," Mattingly said.