Sources: MLB, union closer to rule change for slides into second base

Progress has been made in Major League Baseball's effort to change the rules about slides into second base, sources told ESPN.

Such slides drew more attention late the past season after devastating leg injuries were suffered by the Pittsburgh Pirates' Jung Ho Kang and the New York Mets' Ruben Tejada.

In the ongoing talks between the union and MLB, the sides have been able to find a lot of common ground, and sources expect a change in time for the start of the upcoming season. The sides "will get there," one source familiar with the negotiations told ESPN.

Within the rule alterations being discussed, there is a focus on ensuring that sliding runners either touch the base or make an effort to touch the base.

Sources said that in the union's internal discussions, players made it clear they had been taught since they first began playing baseball to go into second base with the intent of breaking up double-play attempts. Although the union wants to improve safety for middle infielders, it does not want to eliminate players' aggressiveness on slides or the ability to break up a double play.

However, there is a desire on both sides to eliminate slides on which a baserunner goes beyond the effort to reach second to make contact with middle infielders. That is what happened with Tejada, as Chase Utley was nowhere near the base when he crashed into Tejada's leg. Utley was given a two-game suspension by Major League Baseball for that play, a punishment that has been appealed.

The language on the rule has not entirely been resolved, and there is some question about whether slides in question will be subject to instant-replay review.