In an attempt to minimize gruesome collisions at home plate, Rule 7.13 is now alive and well, stating the following:
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). If, in the judgment of the Umpire, a runner attempting to score initiates contact with the catcher (or other player covering home plate) in such a manner, the Umpire shall declare the runner out (even if the player covering home plate loses possession of the ball).
Unless the catcher is in possession of the ball, the catcher cannot block the pathway of the runner as he is attempting to score. If, in the judgment of the Umpire, the catcher, without possession of the ball, blocks the pathway of the runner, the Umpire shall call or signal the runner safe.
In determining whether a runner deviated from his pathway in order to initiate a collision, the Umpire will consider whether the runner made an effort to touch the plate, and whether he lowered his shoulders or pushed through with his hands, elbows or arms when veering toward the catcher. The rule that will be in effect in 2014 does not mandate that the runner always slide or that the catcher can never block the plate. However, runners who slide, and catchers who provide the runner with a lane to reach the plate, will never be found to be in violation of the new rule. Beginning immediately, Clubs will be required to train their runners to slide and their catchers to provide the runner with a pathway to reach the plate at all levels in their organizations.
Joe Maddon's take:
"The thing I don't know is if there's any kind of reprimand or whatever going towards the runner in the event he hits the catcher. Nobody talks about a catcher crushing a base runner, which, if you're getting runners to be more tentative about what they can and cannot do, my bigger concern is that you can hurt a hand or a wrist or a knee. ... Again, it's not a radical departure from what it had been ... but what does happen to the base runner in the event that it's deemed that he did something extraordinarily bad? The runner trying to score: Is he automatically out? Is he suspended? What happens here? That's what I need to know."
You can here more from Joe Maddon at length, via Rays Radio:
Also from Rays Radio, Mark Lowe sat down for over six minutes talking through his career thus far. He reveals the regret he felt not signing with the Rays organization last year, talks about the great impressions he's had of the Rays as an outsider, and discussed his personal life -- including his struggle with diabetes.
Pitching lineup for the first weekend of Spring Training games:
TV schedules for spring games have also been released:
- Live on MLB Network: March 7th vs. the Blue Jays, March 10th vs. the Red Sox.
- On delay on MLB Network: March 9th vs. the Yankees, March 19th vs. the Orioles, March 23rd vs. the Red Sox.
- Live on Sun Sports: March 16th vs. the Red Sox, March 25 vs. the Red Sox, March 26th vs. Baltimore.
- The Hardball Times' Noah Woodward revisited Josh Kalk's "Injury Zone" analysis, which led to his hiring by the Rays front office, and takes the perspective of James Shields in the 2010 ALDS to illustrate his point. (Read Kalk's original piece here.)
- Dan Szymborski's ZiPS have been released in full by Fangraphs! In the data set, Evan Longoria has the sixth highest WAR of position players, and David Price the eighth highest WAR of pitchers. Go check them out.
- SB Nation has its own "Face of MLB" campaign, just using good 'ole faces as the actual criteria. The Rays representative? Our vino-sipping, RV-navigating, gem of a manager. Reasoning:
Rays - Joe Maddon: Joe Maddon takes you to the new Cambodian-Thai restaurant in the Lower East Side. He recites the Rita Dove poem you just quoted. He gets you a little something, it's a vintage locket he found in this shop run by an anarchist collective. He isn't young, you don't care.
Seems legit. Very valid reasoning. Possibly a true story. Other highlights:
In conclusion, Prince Fielder is both cuddly and snuggly. I rest my case.
Mets - David Wright: David Wright comes to the plate on a midsummer day and you are 14 and in love again. You remember: hands locked, furtive kisses, phone calls. Wright rips a double down the line and you remember more.
David Wright is for lovers.
Indians - Nick Swisher: The King of Brohio. He probably has an ownership stake in Affliction. Definitely has more hair products than you. Released an album of song covers for children. Donated hair to cancer patients. Still seems like a genuinely happy person even though he is forced to play in Cleveland.
- Eye On Baseball provided their 2014 preview for the Rays, deeming them a well-rounded ballclub destined for a trip to the postseason, 90-plus wins and "no worse than an ALDS exit."
- "Smell The Change: IronPigs Reveal New Logos ... Themes Include Mouth-Watering Bacon & Molten Steel" Why yes, the IronPigs have already won the 2014 season via that headline and the glorious hat below:
- Yesterday, Joe Maddon took his turn wearing the team GoPro camera, and the rumor is it will feature a session with neqly acquired reliever Heath Bell. According to some weekend footage from Sports Talk Florida, Bell and his son are big Star Wars fans, which is kind of adorable. Bell lists off the characters he relates to:
Video courtesy of Matt Sardo.
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