Rules on takeout slides, netting under review
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Major League Baseball is continuing to look into the possibility of changing the rules regarding slides into second base, tweaking instant replay and installing safety netting at ballparks, chief baseball officer Joe Torre said on Tuesday at the Winter Meetings.
The issue of takeout slides, which has received added attention since Chase Utley's slide broke the leg of Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada during the postseason, will be discussed at a meeting of the Playing Rules Committee on Wednesday. Any change must also be agreed to by the Major League Baseball Players Association.
"I go back to my instructions [as a manager] to players -- break up the double play," Torre said. "There's a way, I believe, you can do it without going out of your way to target the fielder and not consider touching the base. Again, it doesn't mean we're not going to have collisions or guys landing on their rear ends at second base, but I'd like to see us try to keep guys on the field.
"We will discuss it, but I really can't tell you where we're going to land. The thing that really gets your attention is the fact that you carry guys off the field. And we certainly don't want that to happen."
For the past two years, baserunners in the Arizona Fall League have been required to slide directly into second base.
As for instant replay reviews, Torre said he doesn't envision significant changes.
"You know, for years, we accepted the imperfections of our game," Torre said. "But once we got replay, everybody wants everything to be picture perfect, and it's not going to be the case. We're probably going to make adjustments as the technology gets a little bit better. Obviously the super-slow-mo gives us a better picture and we can see more things."
Torre noted that the percentage of overturned calls last season was up slightly, to 50 percent.
One play that has received a lot of scrutiny is when a runner slides into a base safely but is then called out when his foot loses contact with the base for a split-second.
"We accepted certain things over the years, but when a camera shows you that the glove is on the guy's leg and he's not on the bag, how can you say he's safe?" Torre said. "It's not my favorite play and I know [Rules Committee member] Jimmy Leyland has been trying to put wording together to try to eliminate that type of thing. 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].
"Again, we'll have that conversation and we'll continue to have that conversation, and if somebody sort of sheds a little light on it, something that makes sense, we may do something about it."
The proposal for increased safety netting is expected to be addressed in Miami in January at the next Owners' Meetings.
"There have been some recommendations made to ownership and to teams. We are closer than we've been," Torre said. "Like I said, we don't want to carry guys off the field; we certainly want fans in the stands to stay healthy."
Torre was also asked about possible rules changes regarding expanded rosters in September, another item that would have to be negotiated with the MLBPA.
"It's something that sounds simple: Let's just have the same number of players for every team. We have it all year, why can't we do it in September?" he noted. "But there are so many different details that certainly need to be paid attention to, so we are continuing to talk there.
"My personal feelings are that I think it's too important, the time of year that it happens, with the teams now, even more with the extra Wild Card, more teams have an opportunity to go to the postseason. And when you have, say, 28 guys and somebody else has 35, it's not a level playing field."