FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After spending time in Port Charlotte, Fla., on Sunday being instructed on the new rule banning home-plate collisions, manager John Farrell feels more up to speed. Therefore, he can start preparing his team to make adjustments.
Rule 7.13 was officially announced by Major League Baseball on Monday and will be used on an experimental basis this season.
The way Farrell understands it, the rule doesn't change the way his catchers do their job. They will still be able to block the plate like they have in the past.
It is the runners who are going to be challenged with adapting in that they can no longer initiate contact with the catcher.
"The runner obviously can't have any intent to run a catcher over, and that's defined by lowering the shoulder, extending the arms or elbows out in front of you," said Farrell. "They're may be some incidental contact if an errant throw takes a catcher up the line. The catcher also can't maliciously look to take the plate away or to block the plate that may be above and beyond the normal play or the normal aggressiveness in a play. Plays at the plate are reviewable. If you feel like the plate was blocked before the ball was had, that's a reviewable play."
How will Farrell and his staff instruct his players to handle the new rule?
"We're going to instruct them to slide," Farrell said. "The intent, which I agree with, is to protect catchers from getting injured. I think the common feel with this change or the adjustment to the rule is that there's much less protection for the baserunner. That's where a lot of the pushback is taking place right now. How do we protect the baserunner? If they have to slide feet first and they can't be aggressive, a catcher can be aggressive towards the baserunner. So that's where the interpretation and the intent on both sides, either by the baserunner or the catcher, is a reviewable play."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.