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MLB clarifies rule on possession during double-play transfer

April 25, 2014|From staff and wire reports
  • Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist bobbles the ball as the Royals' Alcides Escobar (2) slides into second base during the third inning of a game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. Escobar was called safe and review of the play stood.
Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist bobbles the ball as the Royals' Alcides… (Orlin Wagner / Associated…)

A clarification by Major League Baseball has determined that fielders attempting to turn a double play after forcing out a runner must have complete control of the ball in their glove, but the ball can be dropped after the player intentionally opens their glove for the transfer to the throwing hand.

The use of instant replay this season caused the need for clarification by the rules committee, which MLB said has been agreed to by the players' association and umpires' union. Previously, some umpires ruled that the ball needed to at least be removed from the glove in a transfer attempt.

“There is no requirement that the fielder successfully remove the ball from his glove in order for it be ruled a catch,” the committee said. “If the fielder drops the ball while attempting to remove it to make a throw, the umpires should rule that the ball had been caught, provided that the fielder had secured it in his glove before attempting the transfer.”

The big caveat, of course, is that the umpires must "use their judgment as to whether the fielder had complete control over the ball before the transfer" attempt.

Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick and Manager Mike Scioscia are glad for the clarification.

"It’s only right," Kendrick said. "The rule book clearly states that any time a guy catches the ball securely in his glove and the glove closes" that it's an out. "Transfer is totally different thing. There's been a few instances where guys have clearly caught the ball and were called safe. It changed the game for a lot of people."

Added Scioscia, "I’m glad they changed it, it’s only fair to everybody. It wasn’t an issue for one or two teams, one or two players, it was all around the league. It did change the game, and I’m just happy they figured out and changed it back to what it was.

"I think the fact that it wasn’t just the coaches talking about it, it was the players, too. Once a lot of players talked about it with the media, getting it out there, lot of guys been pretty open about the situation. I thought it was an unfair rule."

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