Major league executive Joe Torre hopes the league and the player’s association find an agreement with regard to slides into second base before the 2016 season.
Torre, who oversees on-field operations, on-field discipline and umpiring, spoke to the media Tuesday at the winter meetings. The topic will be discussed Wednesday by the rules committee.
“We can’t unilaterally make a rule,” Torre said. “We want to make sure we include the player’s association because it’s something that involves players. We certainly want to do the right thing. I’m not saying it’s not going to be in place by this season. It depends on if we can find a common ground.”
The issue came to a boil during the playoffs when the Dodgers’ Chase Utley broke Mets’ shortstop Ruben Tejada’s leg sliding into second base. Utley’s slide was late and several feet to the right of the bag.
Umpires currently have discretion to rule a runner out if deemed out of the base path. On the Utley slide, the crew failed to see how far he was from the bag. The league has experimented with forcing players to slide directly into the bag the past two Arizona Fall League seasons. The player’s association would have to agree to any rules changes, Torre said.
“We’re gathering information on that and how comfortable the players are doing that,” he said. “The thing that really gets your attention is when you carry guys off the field. We certainly don’t want that to happen.”
Torre said he knows there’s not a perfect solution because base runners trying to break up a double play is a long-established element of the game.
“There’s a way, I believe, where you can do it without going out of your way to target the fielder and not consider touching the base,” he said. “It doesn’t mean we’re not going to have collisions and guys landing on their rear ends at second base but I think we could try or I’d like to see us try to keep guys on the field ... even though you know when you write it down and try to put it into play it’s not going to be perfect and there’s going to be some hiccups.”
Coming off the bag
Torre isn’t a fan of runners being called out when their foot briefly comes off the bag after a slide but acknowledges there’s little the league can do to alter the rule.
“We accepted certain things over the years but when the camera shows you the glove is on the guy’s leg and he’s not on the bag how can you say he’s safe,” Torre rhetorically asked, before referring to former manager Jim Leyland’s longtime desire to add wording to the rules to eliminate fielder’s holding their tag. “but it’s really hard for me to say it’s OK to be safe if you’re not on the bag and the glove is tagging you. We continue to have that conversation.”
Stefna Stevenson, 817-390-7760