BRADENTON, Fla. -- Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association this afternoon announced the details of a new rule governing collisions at home plate between a runner attempting to score and the catcher, restricting the actions of both in an effort to reduce injuries.
Runners trying to score cannot initiate contact with the catcher by straying from their path to the plate, and may not use their upper body to try to dislodge the ball from the catcher. Catchers cannot block the runner's path to the plate unless they have the ball.
"We believe the new experimental rule allows for the play at the plate to retain its place as one of the most exciting plays in the game, while providing an increased level of protection to both the runner and the catcher," MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said in a statement. "We will monitor the rule closely this season before discussing with the Commissioner's Office whether the rule should become permanent."
Umpires can call a runner out, even if he was technically safe, if they judge that he violated the rule. Similarly, they can rule a runner to be safe, even if he was out by traditional definition, if the catcher blocks the plate.
Runners do not have to slide, but will avoid violating the rule if they do so. Catchers can block the plate while in possession of the ball, or if the throw takes them up the third-base line.
Interpretations of the rule are subject to video review at the discretion of the crew chief.
Bill Brink: email@example.com and on Twitter @BrinkPG