CHICAGO — 2B Ben Zobrist wants no part of Major League Baseball’s reversal of the transfer rule named after him.
“No. I had nothing to do with it,” Zobrist said. “I was just an innocent victim.”
Yet, Zobrist played a role in the reversal. He was ruled to have dropped the ball while transferring it from his glove to his hand while making the pivot on a double-play attempt April 8 in Kansas City. It was Zobrist’s only error of the season.
Zobrist contacted the players union the following day.
The rule on transferring the ball from glove to hand was modified to accommodate the new rules governing replay reviews. It briefly required the fielder to have possession of the ball well after he made the catch. Zobrist said that caused players to pay more attention to holding on to the ball than continuing with the play.
“Anybody who plays up the middle, because you know how quick you have to make the transfer to make a double play, you don’t want to think about trying to pull it out of the glove perfectly clean every time or you’re probably not going to get that first out,” Zobrist said.
Now, the rule reverts to the old way.
“I felt like they were going to do the right thing,” Zobrist said. “I know that the union and several players really wanted it to go back to the way it was. I think the league recognized that it is different than it had been played a long, long time.”
Manager Joe Maddon, who criticized the rule change after the game April 8, commended MLB for making the change in-season.
“I like what they’ve done,” Maddon said. “I think it’s more realistic to how this game has been played for many years.”
Maddon said the managers were told in spring training the new expanded replay was going to be “fluid” as baseball works through the bugs.
“We’re going to see it evolve in a lot of positive ways,” Maddon said. “You give it a year or so and it’s going to be pretty firm.”
The Rays entered Friday’s game with eight stolen bases on the season, the fewest in team history through 22 games.
“It’s the evolution of the Rays,” Maddon said. “It’s just a different team. We have one legitimate base-stealing threat (CF Desmond Jennings) on the team, where in the past we might have had four or five. You don’t want to put the square peg in the round hole. You don’t want to run yourself into outs just because you want to steal more bases. If we’re in the top five as a base-running team, I’ll take that.”
Swimming with dolphins
RF Wil Myers spent his off day Monday swimming with the dolphins at Discovery Cove Orlando with his girlfrield, Maggie Reaves.
Myers didn’t get engaged with the help of a dolphin like RHP Alex Cobb did in February.
“It had nothing to do with that,” Myers said. “She wanted to swim with dolphins. I was like, ‘All right.’ She came down (from North Carolina) for the New York series and we had the off day, so it was the perfect time to go. It was a lot of fun.”
Online balloting for the All-Star Game began Friday. On the ballot from the Rays are C Ryan Hanigan, 1B James Loney, 2B Zobrist, SS Yunel Escobar, 3B Evan Longoria, DH Matt Joyce and OFs David DeJesus, Myers and Jennings.
LHP David Price showed off the crack in his athletic cup caused last Tuesday by a line drive by Twins 1B Joe Mauer. Price said he wants Mauer to autograph the cup. ... Hanigan has 12 RBIs this month. John Flaherty (14 in 1999) holds the team record for RBIs by a catcher in April. ... Loney entered Friday’s game batting .417 in the seventh inning or later. ... Joyce ranked first in the AL with a 1.043 OPS and a .408 batting average vs. right-handers. ... The Rays ranked fifth in Bloomberg Businessweek’s “Smartest Spenders in Sports 2014.”