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Angels, Astros speak out about Lucroy collision

@alysonfooter
July 8, 2019

CLEVELAND -- A gruesome collision during the eighth inning of the Astros-Angels game Sunday was still a topic of conversation the next day, when the All-Stars gathered for media day in downtown Cleveland. Several Astros players, as well as Angels outfielder Mike Trout, discussed the collision that injured Halos catcher

CLEVELAND -- A gruesome collision during the eighth inning of the Astros-Angels game Sunday was still a topic of conversation the next day, when the All-Stars gathered for media day in downtown Cleveland.

Several Astros players, as well as Angels outfielder Mike Trout, discussed the collision that injured Halos catcher Jonathan Lucroy and left the baserunner, Astros outfielder Jake Marisnick, exposed to scrutiny for how he navigated his path toward home plate. Was it a "dirty" play, merely a reckless one, or just an unfortunate result of hard-nosed baseball? Where that line is drawn, and what penalty Marisnick might face as a result, remains to be seen.

The Angels announced Monday that Lucroy has a concussion and a fractured nose, and that he'll be examined by an ear, nose and throat doctor when the swelling subsides.

"First and foremost, we want to wish the best to Jonathan Lucroy," Houston outfielder George Springer said. "You never want to see that happen. It was a tough play, a tough situation. I know Jake very well. He's a great teammate and good person. I know he wouldn't do anything intentional to hurt anybody."

With Sunday's game tied at 10 with one out, Springer lifted a fly ball to right field and Marisnick, after tagging up at third, sprinted home. Halos right fielder Kole Calhoun made a strong throw, but as Lucroy was about to attempt to catch the ball, Marisnick -- one of the Astros’ fastest players -- barreled into the catcher, knocking him over. Lucroy's nose was bleeding as he was carted off the field.

Marisnick was originally called safe, but the call was reversed by the umpires, who ruled Marisnick's slide was illegal per the "Posey Rule," which has largely removed "egregious" home-plate collisions from the game following a season-ending injury to Giants catcher Buster Posey during the 2011 season. The rule (7.13) states that "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)." It also states that "the failure by the runner to make an effort to touch the plate, the runner's lowering of the shoulder, or the runner's pushing through with his hands, elbows or arms, would support a determination that the runner deviated from the pathway in order to initiate contact with the catcher in violation."

Marisnick's intentions as he slid full-speed into Lucroy are open to interpretation. And it wasn't interpreted well by veteran St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina, who took to Instagram on Sunday night to forcefully criticize Marisnick for the violent nature of the collision. With colorful language, Molina called for Major League Baseball to take action and blasted anyone who disagreed with him. Angels manager Brad Ausmus called for Marisnick to be suspended in his comments immediately following the game.

Marisnick also took to social media, tweeting that he thought the play was going to end up on the outside of the plate and made a last-second decision to slide headfirst on the inside. He apologized profusely to Lucroy.

"He's just trying to score a run there," Houston All-Star pitcher Gerrit Cole said. "Ironically, I think the move [Marisnick] made was probably to try to avoid contact. The way [Lucroy] was set up, he thought he was going to slide to the outside to tag him. It's ironic that [Marisnick] was probably trying to get around him to go in, and then they both went the same way. It's not fun to watch."

Trout said he did not watch the replay, wishing to not rehash such a violent injury to his teammate. Trout referenced the terrible week, which began with the unthinkably tragic death of their teammate, Tyler Skaggs, and continued with a fractured right tibia suffered by first-time All-Star Tommy La Stella.

The sight of Lucroy being carted off the field with a bloody nose was enough for Trout -- he doesn't want to see it again.

"If Yadi's saying something about it, he's probably right," Trout said. "He's a catcher. A lot of things happen full speed and you have to make a split-second decision. I didn't see the replay. I didn't want to look at it. I saw how Lucroy was."

Astros All-Star shortstop Alex Bregman, who was on his way out of the dugout to the on-deck circle when the collision happened, said he has a lot of regard for Molina but does not agree with his take.

"I respect him, he's a Hall of Fame catcher -- one of the best catchers in this game," Bregman said. "With all due respect, he wasn't there ... we know Jake wasn't trying to do anything to harm Lucroy. It wasn't a dirty play. Jake's not a dirty player."

Bregman’s view was similar to those of his teammates. He saw Calhoun's throw take Lucroy a little up the line and outside of the basepath, giving Marisnick a path to dive inside. But as Lucroy was catching the ball, he brought it back to his center, on the inside part of the plate. At that point, it would have been impossible for Marisnick to miss Lucroy, Bregman said.

"You could see as soon as Jake goes to dive, he tries to avoid him, and his shoulder hits Lucroy," Bregman said. "It's one of those unfortunate plays. We hope he's going to be OK. Lucroy's a great competitor. We love to play against him. He's one of the better catchers in baseball."

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.