“I’ve always said that the main thing is for everybody to be comfortable with it, that the catchers and runners are protected,” said Posey, addressing the rule change for the first time.
Posey, an All-Star catcher, sustained a broken bone in his lower left leg and three torn ligaments in his ankle in the May 2011 collision, an injury that helped intensify debate over plate collisions. Posey returned in 2012 to win the National League MVP award.
The new rule, in what both sides said was a one-year experiment, 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 rule states that “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 will be declared out, even if the fielder drops the ball.
The umpire crew chief can use the new video-review system to determine whether the rule was violated.
“I have always set up in front of the plate, where the runner can have part of the plate,” Posey said.
Tony Clark, the new executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, asked for Posey’s input in helping both sides shape the rule. “They got a lot of different input,” Posey said.
“The way I look at it, I don’t see that drastic of a change,” he added. “The hardest part will be for umpires to make a judgment, although having the replay might help.”
Manager Bruce Bochy, himself a former major-league catcher, was pleased with the change.
“I’ve been for it. It’s time for a change,” he said. “You want to protect the catcher, not just in the majors but the minors. Guys are getting bigger and stronger all the time.”