In what both sides said was a one-year experiment, the rule allows collisions if the catcher has the ball and is blocking the runner’s direct path to home plate, and if the catcher goes into the basepath to field a throw to the plate.
The new rule, 7.13, states “a runner attempting to score may not deviate from his direct pathway to the plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher (or other player covering home plate).” A runner violating the rule shall be declared out, even if the fielder drops the ball.
Debate over plate collisions has intensified since May 2011, when Giants catcher Buster Posey was injured as the Marlins’ Scott Cousins crashed into him at the plate. Posey, an All-Star, sustained a broken bone in his lower left leg and three torn ligaments in his ankle, an injury that ended his season.
In Game 5 of last year’s AL Championship Series, Detroit backstop Alex Avila was pulled a couple of innings after being run over at the plate by Boston’s David Ross, a fellow catcher.
“I think it’s fair. A runner’s path is to home plate,” A’s catcher Derek Norris said. “Any deviation and he’s not trying to score, he’s trying to harm. A runner going out of the basepath trying to break up a double play is declared out. This is the same concept as a double-play slide.”