Pirates notebook: Torre says MLB erred on replay call

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Major League Baseball acknowledged Thursday that the play at the plate involving Russell Martin and Cincinnati Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco in the third inning of the game Wednesday should not have violated the home-plate collision rule.

“[Wednesday] night’s play at home plate was one of the most difficult calls that our umpires have faced this season, given that the positioning of the catcher at home plate was necessary to record the forceout,” MLB executive vice president of baseball operations Joe Torre said in a statement.

Martin’s foot was on the plate for the forceout when he received a throw with the bases loaded, but umpires in New York City’s replay command center overturned the call and ruled the runner safe under Rule 7.13.

“It’s a force play, so his foot has to be on the plate,” manager Clint Hurdle said Thursday before the game. “It’s not the same, I don’t believe, as creating a lane for a runner sliding. Once the ball’s in his glove and his foot’s on the plate, the runner’s out. Wherever he is, he’s out.”

That call was juxtaposed against a later play when Mesoraco had his left foot in front of the plate when Pedro Alvarez tried to score. A review found he did not block the plate — Martin said after the game that he understood the call on Mesoraco while Hurdle believed Mesoraco blocked the plate — but the review also ruled Alvarez safe.

“You want to know what the rule is,” Mesoraco said. “You want to know what to expect, you want to know what you can and can’t do and at this point I don’t think any of the catchers know.”

Hurdle said further dialogue is necessary to clarify the rule, which went into effect in spring training.

“The goal of Rule 7.13 is to prevent egregious home plate collisions, and despite how challenging these situations can be, we have made important progress in accomplishing that goal,” Torre said.

Snider reflects on pitching

Travis Snider certainly looked the part. Standing in the clubhouse with his left elbow wrapped in ice, the outfielder described his first appearance on a major league mound with the acumen of a veteran pitcher.

“I felt like the changeup was working pretty well,” Snider deadpanned after taking the mound in the ninth inning of the Pirates’ 11-4 loss Wednesday night. “I was having a tough time locating the fastball.”

Snider’s fastball reached 86.4 mph, according to Brooks Baseball. He allowed two runs on one hit and two walks and struck out one. That one strikeout was Joey Votto, the 2010 National League MVP, a career .312 hitter.

“There’s a lot of really good pitchers who probably haven’t struck out Joey Votto, let alone get two swings and misses,” Hurdle said.

Walker to begin rehabbing

Neil Walker left for Bradenton, Fla., to begin his rehabilitation assignment. He will play a simulated game today at the Pirates’ minor league facility, participate in another simulated game or a workout Saturday and start Sunday for Class A Bradenton, Hurdle said.

Walker, who is on the 15-day disabled list after an appendectomy, will rejoin the Pirates Monday in Tampa Bay before his Tuesday activation, Hurdle said, or play another rehab game Monday. Bradenton is about an hour south of Tampa.

Cole keeps throwing

Gerrit Cole is scheduled for another simulated game Monday, in which he will throw six “innings” and attempt to reach 85 pitches.

If all goes well for Cole, who is on the 15-day DL because of right shoulder fatigue, he could rejoin the rotation June 28, Hurdle said.

Bill Brink: bbrink@post-gazette.com and Twitter @BrinkPG.

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