Avila would like leeway with interference rule

Avila would like leeway with interference rule

HOUSTON -- Alex Avila had his catching hand wrapped in ice as he talked with reporters Wednesday night, the result of being hit by George Springer's swing during the Tigers' 6-3 win over the Astros.

Avila was fine Thursday, but his bigger soreness was with the catcher's interference call that resulted in Springer going to first base and Houston getting a leadoff baserunner against Daniel Norris in the third inning.

It was the right call by rule, Avila acknowledged, but he thinks the rule could use some leeway for an umpire's discretion.

"The ball was in my glove and he decided to swing," Avila said Wednesday. "I know he's not doing that on purpose, but the ball's in my glove, then he swings and he gets awarded first base. I think that might be a rule Major League Baseball should look at. I get it if it hit the front of my glove, maybe. But it hit almost my wrist. It's a big difference there.

"I know Springer isn't doing it on purpose. I know they have quite a few interference calls already this year. But, I mean, when you're that far behind [the plate] and the ball's in the glove, it ticks you off that he gets awarded first base. There literally is no leeway. If the bat hits any part of the catcher, then he gets awarded first base."

The Astros lead the Majors with six baserunners due to catcher's interference. No other team has more than two. But they don't have a history of it before this season.

A better example is Yankees outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who holds the Major League career mark and annually leads the league. Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, who sat farther behind the plate than many catchers during his playing days, remembers Jacque Jones getting two such calls in one game with him behind the plate for the Tigers.

"There's not many that do it, but if you can swing really late and deep, especially with two strikes, when you're letting the ball travel deeper anyway, you can take advantage of it," Ausmus said. "With Jacoby Ellsbury, we would sit back [as a catcher] even farther."

Ausmus does not believe it happens often enough to need a rule examination.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.