Padres confident Capps' delivery is within rule
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Major League Baseball's addition to Rule 5.07 applies universally. But you can bet Padres reliever Carter Capps will be the focal point.
It won't be known for certain until mid-March, when he makes his Cactus League debut, but Capps and the Padres believe that his quirky delivery remains legal under the rule update:
An addition to Rule 5.07 formalizes an umpire interpretation by stipulating that a pitcher may not take a second step toward home plate with either foot or otherwise reset his pivot foot in his delivery of the pitch. If there is at least one runner on base, then such an action will be called as a balk under Rule 6.02(a). If the bases are unoccupied, then it will be considered an illegal pitch under Rule 6.02(b).
The key phrase above is clearly "a pitcher may not take a second step toward home plate with either foot or otherwise reset his pivot foot."
When asked whether he feels he does either of those things, Capps responded, "No."
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Essentially, the Padres feel the rule adds clarity to what a legal delivery is -- and they believe that Capps' delivery falls within those constricts.
"The main issue was the vagueness of the rule in general," Capps said. "It seemed like they were trying to crack down on it a little bit."
Said Padres manager Andy Green: "Based on what I saw in live BP two days ago ... he's fine. He's dragging his foot down the slope. He's still exploding down the slope. There's a large percentage of pitchers who leave the rubber before they deliver the pitch. It's just no replant, repositioning or push again. We get that and don't have any concerns."
Green noted that the Padres will continue to correspond with Major League Baseball to make sure Capps' delivery is within the rules. The club received notification of a potential rule update when it met with Major League Baseball earlier this spring.
During his first bullpen session of camp, Capps sparked some controversy when he appeared to hop and reset his foot before dragging it. Green acknowledged that under the new rules, that would be deemed an illegal pitch.
But Capps has since reverted back to a delivery that is almost identical to the one he used in 2015 -- when he posted a 1.16 ERA in 30 innings. In that delivery, he drags his back foot before bringing the ball forward.
"What I saw in the live BP a couple days ago, I don't really have any reservations," Green said. "Obviously, the first time he threw -- when he got caught on video -- he's pumped up, he's trying to get back to where he's pitched before mechanically. He feels good now, and it felt like what he did the other day was fine."
Capps -- who came to the Padres last July in the Andrew Cashner trade -- missed the entire 2016 season because of Tommy John surgery. He's likely to pitch in simulated or Minor League games before he appears in the Cactus League.