Baseball players will have to bring their “bona fides” as they break into a slide on the base paths this season.
Major League Baseball announced on Thursday an addition to existing rule 6.01 on “Interference, Obstruction, and Catcher Collisions.” Slides on potential double plays will require runners to make a “bona fide” attempt to reach and remain on the base.
A runner won’t be able to change his pathway to the base or utilize a “roll block” to initiate contact with the fielder.
The runner who engages in a “bona fide” slide won’t be called for interference even if he makes contact with the fielder.
The rule outlaws the slide that the Dodgers’ Chase Utley used to break up a double play in last season’s National League Division Series. Utley changed direction and roll-blocked into the Mets’ Ruben Tejada, breaking Tejada’s leg. Utley received a two-game suspension.
If the runner violates the rule, the double play is automatically called.
Instant replay can be used to review the play, and also reviewable will be the “neighborhood play,” which were previously exempted from replay review. The neighborhood play is a force play where the fielder catches and throws the ball at second base without actually touching the base or by touching the base before catching the ball.
Times have changed, Royals manager Ned Yost said on Thursday before the new rule was announced.
“We grew up playing this game at the big-league level, when you got on first base, your only thought was to kill that guy at second,” Yost said. “You’re going from first to third on a single to right, but any ground ball in the infield, you were gonna freaking wipe that dude out. That was back when Hal McRae used to do roll-blocks. That was everybody’s intent.”
MLB also announced that there will be timed 30-second visits to the pitcher’s mound by managers and pitching coaches. The breaks between innings also will be reduced. It will be 2 minutes, 5 seconds for locally televised games and 2:25 for nationally televised games, a reduction of 20 seconds each from the 2015 season.