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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Buster Posey doesn’t believe the new rule governing home plate collisions will have a drastic effect on how catchers play their position or how runners try to score.
But it should prevent some drastic injuries from occurring. That’s the part Posey understands all too well.
“It eliminates the malicious collision, which is a good thing,” said Posey, who had input in the drafting of Rule 7.13 and applauded the final result.
For many, Posey will be the face of this rule. If not for the targeted hit delivered by the Marlins’ Scott Cousins on May 25, 2011, which left Posey with a fractured leg and three torn ankle ligaments, then the conversations wouldn’t have ramped up and Giants manager Bruce Bochy wouldn’t have been able to call favor to his banner.
(The rule would’ve died in committee if not for what is happening with the NFL and liability issues related to brain injuries, but that’s another topic.)
There was no doubt the Players’ Association would seek out Posey’s opinion as the rule was being formulated, and the Giants’ catcher and cleanup hitter said he had “a small part in it.”
What was his input? What shape did he want the rule to take?
[RELATED: Posey reviews text of catcher collision rule]
“I wanted my main theme (to be) for everybody to be comfortable with it,” Posey said. “Not everybody is going to be comfortable with something that is changing. But the main thing is that catchers and runners were protected.”
The league is asking teams to encourage runners to slide and catchers to use the swipe tag, leaving a lane to the plate. That’s something the Giants already did, so Posey doesn’t believe it’s going to be a difficult rule for players to adopt.
“I think I’ve always set up in front of the plate to where the runner has a chance to slide,” said Posey, who was turning back toward the plate, but not blocking it, when Cousins speared him with his shoulder. “(The runners) have a part of the plate they can get to.
“I don’t see it as being that drastic of a change, I guess. I think the hardest part is going to be for the umpires really, to make a judgment call sometimes when there is a collision, what the intent of the runner was.”
Umpires will have discretion to use replay. And because they’ll be talking about taking a run off the board, or adding one, you can bet virtually every play that involves contact at the plate will go to the video.
Hunter Pence, who crosses the plate with as much steam as anyone in baseball, also voiced approval for how the rule was written.
“It’s pretty fair,” he said. “It doesn’t seem like it’ll change the way I play the game at all. That’s what I do. If the catcher is in the way, you’ve got to find a way to get to home plate. I come in hard in case they get in the way, and I can still do that.”
The gray area for umpires will be in cases when a runner goes in without sliding, takes a defensive posture and contact results. A runner can’t deliver a forearm to the head, obviously.
“But I’m not going to just go in and lead with my face,” Pence said.
It’ll be up to the umpires to determine intent. In passing this rule, the league made its intent clear.
“It’s a good rule,” Pence said. “We shouldn’t be going out to injure the catcher. We’re going in there to score a run. … They’re looking to make the game better and that’s something we’ve got to adjust to.”