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February 24, 2014 at 9:15 AM

A few Monday morning links and notes …. MLB implements new catching rule

Happy Monday! At least I think it’s Monday. The days all run together down here. It must be all the sunshine and strip malls.

On the injury front, Brandon Maurer said he’s feeling much better today. He said the back locked up when he got out of bed the other day. He’s been getting treatment for the back, but said the best recovery is rest.

Taijuan Walker has the day off, but manager Lloyd McClendon said they are continuing to have him come back slowly. He’s on a different schedule than other pitchers.

“I think that’s the plan, keep moving him forward,” McClendon said. “He has a couple scheduled days off and then he’ll get back out there.”

The big news around baseball is the announcement of the new home plate collision rule, which should come out later today.

For the Mariners, John Buck, who is also the team’s player representative, has been in contact with the league and the union hoping for some clarification on the rule.

“When we were on the phone talking about it, one of the things that we said is that it is confusing,” Buck said. “Even when you watch the video, it is confusing. The suggestion was to have a committee go around and teach and show the video or at least have something they can give us. I’m in the meetings and talking the phone with the players union and MLB, it’s still focusing for me and I’m involved in it.”

Buck knows why the rule has been pushed for and now going into place. He was standing about 50 feet away in the on-deck circle at AT&T park in San Francisco when his Marlins’ teammate Scott Cousins bowled over Buster Posey at home plate. Posey’s leg got caught underneath of him causing a gruesome fracture and knocking him out for an entire season.

“I felt it in the on-deck circle,” Buck said.  “In my opinion, I don’t think it was dirty. But like I said, there are different interpretations from three or four different angles. What we are trying to do, whether it’s dirty or not, is to eliminate that particular play. He would have had to slide and Buster doesn’t get busted up, whether it’s legal or not. In that instance, both players leave healthy in that play. But with the way that it happened Buster ends up breaking his angle and Scott hurts his shoulder for a run. It’s trying to make the game safer, but also not jeopardize the integrity of it.”

Still Buck was not a huge proponent of the change. He wanted to have a committee like in football that would review collisions, look for malicious intent and then level heavy fines. But after listening to Tigers’ manager Mike Matheny, who was also against the rule at first, describe some of the effects from multiple concussions caused by collisions, Buck has softened his stance.

“It’s hard not to give it some thought, which I have,” Buck said. “But hearing Matheny it’s made me a little more open to it. He brought up some points I hadn’t really thought of.”

Mike Zunino is trying to understand the rule. He’s been leaning on Buck and sitting in on some of the question and answer sessions.

“There is definitely some gray area,” Zunino said. “I know we’ve been raising questions. What happens in certain situations? What happens if we have the ball early enough to take away the base path? Are we allowed to take away the base path if it’s a tag play in the infield? We’ve had a lot of questions come up that we want to get clear so when that time comes in a game that we do everything the right way.”

Zunino will have to relearn everything he was taught in the past about taking the plate away from runners.

“You’re supposed to get to that front corner, point your toe down the third-base line so if there is a collision that left foot can give out and you’re knee is in a safe spot,” he said. “Now I don’t know if we just have to move up 4 to 6 inches and give them a little more. I don’t know if that front corner is enough to give them the back part of the plate. It’s just one of those we’ll have to discuss it as catchers and a coaching staff to see what they want to do.”

Really Zunino just wants to start preparing himself according to the new rules. The play at the plate is one of the most difficult for a catcher and he doesn’t want to be thinking about wehther or not he is in accordance with the new rule as it’s happening. He just wants to learn it and practice it to the point it becomes second nature.

“I think that’s the toughest thing to break because everything we’ve been doing up until now, getting our body in the right position, is instinctual now because we’ve done it so much,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing is we have to do enough reps now to get to that point where we don’t’ have to think about it in games.”

Linkage … 

Today’s schedule 


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