PORT CHARLOTTE — Manager Joe Maddon met with catchers Jose Molina and Ryan Hanigan on Tuesday morning regarding the new rule governing collisions at home plate. Maddon will meet with the rest of the team this morning to discuss the subject.
“I’ve got some ideas or opinions,” Maddon said. “I think I’ve finally put together what I think, which I’m not going to reveal right now. … It’s finally crystallized for me mentally what I think is the best way to explain it.”
The rule states runners cannot initiate contact with the catcher unless the catcher is blocking the plate. If they do, the runner will be called out. Catchers cannot block the plate unless they have the ball. If they do, the runner will be called safe.
The rule is not as drastic as some expected, though it will change the way runners try to score and will take some getting used to.
“To be honest, there’s been times when I can tell (the runner is) going to slide and I’ll stick my leg out before I have the ball. He’ll slide in, I’ll get the ball and go,” Hanigan said. “It’s not necessarily the safest thing to do because your leg is exposed. I only do that if I’m really pretty sure the guy’s going to slide. But that’s not going to be allowed.”
While the rule is aimed at reducing injury, OF Matt Joyce said runners risk injury if they collide with the catcher while sliding.
“We’re going to try to really slide with our cleat going into their shin guard,” Joyce said. “That’s the way to protect yourself while sliding into home hard. For me, I’ve slid into home where it’s shin-to-shin. That’s just not a safe play. We’ll see how it goes.”
There will be collisions between runners and catchers, especially when the throw takes the catcher into the runner. That’s when the play becomes a judgment call for the home plate umpire. Umpires can use replay to determine the runner’s intent or when the catcher had possession of the ball when blocking the plate.
“There’s so much semantical stuff going on in here, and each umpire is going to be told the same thing but then interpret it differently. But then it’s going to be open to replay, so you talk about Pandora’s box,” Maddon said. “That’s what I don’t really know, and I’ve talked about this being a fluid situation. Season in progress, something’s going to happen in Colorado and all of a sudden we get a memo that something has been readjusted.”
RHP Chris Archer, scheduled to make his Grapefruit League debut next Tuesday against the Red Sox in Fort Myers, adjusted his pitching schedule for this week.
Archer decided not to throw his scheduled bullpen Tuesday. Instead, he will throw a simulated game Thursday morning. That puts him on schedule to make his first start five days later.
“I’m open to any of that stuff from the guy,” Maddon said. “There’s nothing wrong with him at all. He feels great. He’s throwing the ball wonderfully. He’s exhibiting his ability to take charge of his own career, at some point. We give him that option anyway.”
Daily Zo update
2B Ben Zobrist (sore lower back) fielded grounders, threw and hit in the cage Tuesday morning. He also stretched with the team before the workout for the first time this spring. Zobrist said everything went well.
The injury surely will keep Zobrist out of Friday’s spring opener against the Orioles.
LHP Cesar Ramos will start Friday against the Orioles. Also scheduled to pitch are RHP Heath Bell, RHP Brandon Gomes, RHP Josh Lueke, RHP Jake Odorizzi, RHP Nathan Karns, LHP C.J. Riefenhauser and RHP Kirby Yates.