OAKLAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona believes it is going to take time for both players and umpires to adjust to Major League Baseball's new rules covering home-plate collisions. Francona pointed to a play on Monday night as an example.
In the sixth inning of the Indians' 2-0 win over the A's, Michael Brantley slid into the legs of Oakland catcher John Jaso, who appeared to block home plate prior to receiving a relay throw from pitcher Sonny Gray. Brantley was called out and the ruling was confirmed after home-plate umpire Mike Winters had the play reviewed.
After looking at the replay himself, Francona did not feel Brantley had a clear path to the plate, which catchers need to provide under the new rules. Catchers are not permitted to block the plate prior to having possession of the baseball.
"Their catcher moved up the line," Francona said. "That takes away any angle that Brantley had."
Winters explained his take to a pool reporter after Monday's game.
"With the new rule," Winters said, "I just wanted to confirm what I saw on the field that the catcher did not block the plate unnecessarily. ... He was in fair territory. He gave the runner plenty of plate to go to, and so I just wanted to be sure."
Francona did not agree.
"I don't think that's correct," Francona said.
After the new guidelines for plays at the plate were announced in Spring Training, Francona instructed his position players to always slide into the plate. The manager felt that would eliminate his players being called out for unnecessarily colliding into a catcher.
"They're trying to institute a rule to protect the catchers," Francona said. "We all understand that. Getting there is not always the easiest. Even when you look at it four, five, six times, then you try to put yourself in the catcher's shoes, the runner's shoes. The game is going fast. I'm sure you're going to see some squabbling or back-and-forth until it's completely figured out.
"We told them to always slide. That's what we've instructed. We were told that you're never in peril of being called out, thrown out, or suspended, if you slide. So, that's kind of the way we're going about it. We were also told that if they block the plate before they have the ball, that they are going to overturn calls. So, it's still a little gray."