TEMPE, Ariz. -- On paper, the new rules intended to protect catchers from collisions at home plate appear reasonable. How well those rules work might depend on how effectively those rules translate from printed words into real-time baseball.
“The game is pretty fast out there,” Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said Tuesday.
The rules do not prevent a catcher from blocking the plate and do not force a runner to slide, so collisions will happen. The rules do require a catcher to have possession of the ball before he can block the plate, and they do forbid a runner from lowering his shoulder or throwing a block into the catcher.
“I think it’s closer to trying to give guidelines to what a runner can do to take away the mindless collisions,” Scioscia said, “and also give some guidelines to a catcher as to what his rights are to make a tag.”
Scioscia called the new rules a “work in progress” and restated the position he has held as the issue arose in recent years.
“I think it’s an extremely difficult thing to try to legislate,” Scioscia said.
Angels catcher Chris Iannetta, beginning his ninth season in the major leagues, said he never had been seriously injured in a collision at home plate.
“I’m OK with keeping it the way it is,” Iannetta said. “If this [change] is what the general consensus is, that’s fine.”
He recognized that the rule changes had been adopted in the wake of several high-profile collisions, most notably to Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants.
“A lot of times, we’re more reactive than proactive -- in life generally, not just baseball,” Iannetta said.
Bill Lachemann, 79, the Angels’ longtime catching instructor, said he believes in the old school.
“You’ve got to protect home plate,” he said. “I’d get my butt knocked over every once in a while. That was the old Dodger way.”
However, he said, he understood that Major League Baseball could not ignore safety and liability issues.
“It’s the way baseball is going nowadays,” Lachemann said. “They’re protecting people. You can’t blame ‘em.
“Look at the NFL, with all their concussions. It’s a safety procedure. You live with it.”