Giants comfortable with home-plate collision rule

Giants comfortable with home-plate collision rule

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Predictably, the Giants expressed sincere support for experimental rule 7.13, which is meant to preserve the health of players by preventing unnecessary home-plate collisions.

Manager Bruce Bochy has been a longtime advocate of implementing rules to protect catchers, who frequently have been exposed to bodily harm by baserunners charging toward home at full speed. And Buster Posey unwittingly became a poster child for the movement to safeguard catchers when he sustained extensive left leg injuries in a May 2011 collision with the Marlins' Scott Cousins.

Bochy and Posey waited until Tuesday, one day after the introduction of the rule was announced, so they could have time to review it.

"I guess what I take away from it is it eliminates malicious collisions, which is a good thing," Posey said.

Asked if the rule passed was the one he envisioned, Bochy said, "This is pretty close, really. There is a place where the catcher can set up to where he's not vulnerable to getting hit. If you go by the rule, you can't target the catcher."

Though Posey has emphasized that he didn't want the rule to be purely associated with him due to the Cousins incident, he acknowledged contributing some suggestions about the rule's wording to Tony Clark, executive director of the Players Association.

"I was a small part in it, I guess," Posey said. "My main thing, like I mentioned before, was for everybody to be comfortable with it. Not everybody's going to be comfortable with something when it's changing."

Posey indicated that he'd feel comfortable, since he won't have to change his catching style. He noted that he always has set up to take a throw in front of the plate, giving runners a portion of the plate they can reach by sliding.

Right fielder Hunter Pence, one of baseball's most intense performers, sounded confident about maintaining his full-speed-ahead pace.

"I think that's pretty fair," he said of the rule. "It doesn't seem like it's going to change the way that I play at all. All I do is run in to score. If a catcher's in the way, you have to find a way to get to home plate. Normally, they're just trying to tag you. I come in hard in case they pop in late, just to make sure that you can get to home. Because there could be an injury if you go soft where they can take you out. It's a good rule. We shouldn't be going out to injure the catcher; we should be [trying] to score the run."

Pence and Posey admitted some confusion about what happens if a baserunner doesn't have time to slide and is forced to approach home plate standing up just as the catcher receives the ball. Such instances could be subject to an umpire's interpretation.

"Do we have to run into them face-first or chest-first? That doesn't make any sense," Pence said. "If they're blocking the plate, you have to give them a shoulder. There's nothing else you can give them."

Chris Haft is a reporter for Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.