Sports Now

New home-plate collision rules still causing confusion for Angels

HOUSTON — A play in the second inning of the Angels-Astros game on Saturday night highlighted the confusion that still exists over baseball’s new home-plate collision rules and nearly sent the Angels’ starting third baseman to the disabled list.

David Freese said he rarely slides head-first into home, but as he approached the plate while scoring on Howie Kendrick’s double to left-center, he felt the only avenue through Houston catcher Carlos Corporan was with such a slide, a decision Freese said he “regretted when I was in midair.”

The relay throw bounced in the dirt, and as Corporan tried to make the scoop and tag in one swiping motion, he lost possession of the ball while moving in front of the plate.

Freese jammed his left hand into Corporan’s leg on his initial pass and eventually returned to touch the plate, scoring the first run in a 5-1 Angels victory. Though he came up shaking and grabbing his left wrist, he remained in the game and was in the lineup for Sunday’s game.

“I’m good,” Freese said. “I was just trying to get around the catcher. I normally don’t do that. I’m still trying to figure out the rules, whether the catcher has the ball or doesn’t have the ball.”

Freese said he was told later by an umpire that he would have been ruled safe because Corporan had blocked the plate without the ball. But Astros Manager Bo Porter said he thought Corporan gave Freese a sliding lane, whether he had the ball or not.

“The rule basically says that you have to give him a sliding lane — well, there are two things,” Porter said. “One, you have to give him a sliding lane, and two, you can’t block the plate without the ball.

“As the catcher, you can’t be in front of the plate or drop down in front of the baserunner without the ball. I felt like Corporan was in a good position, he had a sliding lane, and we just didn’t control the ball through the tag.”

Angels Manager Mike Scioscia wasn’t so sure.

“The home-plate dynamics are still evolving,” he said. “It looked like [Corporan] was in the path before he had the ball. It’s the trade-off of catchers not getting hit to the lane the runner is entitled to. It’s something that will take some getting used to, for sure.”

Scioscia said he would never encourage any of his players to slide head-first into home — there is too much injury risk going into a catcher in full gear—but he admitted the new rules might lead to more head-first slides into the plate.

“I think the results might not be as devastating as they potentially could be … because if you have a lane to slide in if you have the play beat, most times you’ll be presented with a swipe tag instead of a leg,” Scioscia said.

“A runner is going to sense his lane more than before, as long as the catchers understand the restriction. You’re fortunate when a guy slides head-first into home and comes out OK.”


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