New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Major League Baseball has adopted a rule in an effort to cut down on home plate collisions.
MLB's playing rules committee in December had voted to eliminate those types of plays at the plate, but it needed a clear definition and approval from owners and the union.
The new rule, which has been agreed to by the MLBPA, will try to prohibit the most egregious home plate collisions and includes the following guidelines:
- A runner attempting to score may not deviate from his direct pathway to the plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher (or other player covering home plate). If, in the judgment of the umpire, a runner attempting to score initiates contact with the catcher (or other player covering home plate) in such a manner, the umpire shall declare the runner out (even if the player covering home plate loses possession of the ball).
- Unless the catcher is in possession of the ball, the catcher cannot block the pathway of the runner as he is attempting to score. If, in the judgment of the umpire, the catcher, without possession of the ball, blocks the pathway of the runner, the umpire shall call or signal the runner safe.
Umpires will consider whether the runner tried to touch the plate and whether he lowered his shoulders or pushed through with his hands when heading toward the catcher.
The rule does not mandate that a runner slide or that a catcher can never block the plate. However, runners who slide, and catchers who provide the runner with a lane to reach the plate, will never be found to be in violation of the new rule.
Umpires will also have replay available to review potential violations.
The rule will be implemented on an experimental basis for the 2014 season. A committee of players and managers will be formed as the season progresses to review the process and discuss the ramifications of the rule.