MLB makes adjustment to home-plate collision rule

June 24, 2014 - 10:52 am

Nearly a week after a controversial and incorrect ruling in Pittsburgh, Major League Baseball announced an adjustment to its recently instituted rule on home-plate collisions. Fox baseball reporter Ken Rosenthal reported on Twitter Tuesday afternoon that MLB has made a change to Rule 7.13, instructing umpires not to apply the rule on force plays at home plate.

The adjustment comes in response to an incident last Wednesday in a game between the Pirates and the Red in which the umpires overturned an "out" call after reviewing a play in which they deemed Pittsburgh catcher Russell Martin illegally blocked the plate with his foot. Executive vice president of baseball operations Joe Torre issued a statement the next day saying replay officials incorrectly applied the rule. Torre said the play "was one of the most difficult calls that our umpires have faced this season, given that the positioning of the catcher at home plate was necessary to record the force out. After evaluating the play and the details of the review, we recognize that this play was not the type that should have resulted in a violation of Rule 7.13. "The goal of Rule 7.13 is to prevent egregious home-plate collisions, and despite how challenging these situations can be, we have made important progress in accomplishing that goal." The experimental rule was implemented on Feb. 24 with the understanding that MLB would make adjustments if necessary. The rule initially stated that the catcher may not block the pathway of a runner attempting to score unless he has possession of the ball. It also determined that runners aren't allowed to run out of a direct line to the plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher or whomever may be covering the plate. "I disagree with it. I understand why they're doing it, but next, they're going to tell us that you can't slide into the guy at second base," Red Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski said at the time. "It's one of those things, as a big-league catcher, I signed up for it. You never want to see guys get hurt, and you never want to see guys go down because of it, but it's part of the game you signed up for.

"There are going to be plays at the plate, late in games, where you need to block the plate and try to keep that guy from scoring, saving a run that ultimately gets your team into the playoffs. And not given that opportunity is unfair. I understand why the rule is made, but I wish there was a better way to go about it.''