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Play at plate confirmed by replay, looms large in Cincy

CINCINNATI -- Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg got ejected in the sixth inning Saturday after replay officials in New York confirmed a call that went against the Phillies.

Marlon Byrd was called out after a collision at home plate with Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco to end a scoring threat. Sandberg walked onto the field to ask for a review because he thought Mesoraco had blocked the plate before he caught the ball. Officials took a look to see if Mesoraco violated rule 7.13, which in part says the catcher may not block the pathway of a runner attempting to score unless he has possession of the ball.

If the catcher blocks the runner before he has the ball, the umpire may call the runner safe.

A MLB spokesperson said officials confirmed the play because they felt that there was a sufficient lane for Byrd to reach the plate.

"Marlon Byrd almost twisted an ankle with indecision there," Sandberg said. "For me, [Mesoraco] put his shin guard down and blocked the plate without the ball. I think that's gone against us three times on different interpretations on different scenarios. Everyone just wants to know what the rule is. What is it? It can't be just whoever is there [in New York] has their opinion, because we're teaching the catchers one thing, we're telling baserunners another thing. They want to eliminate a collision with the catcher. Well, the catcher for me instigated the collision by blocking home plate without the ball."

Umpires ruled Phillies center fielder Tony Gwynn Jr. out at the plate on April 13 at Citizens Bank Park, despite the fact Marlins catcher Jeff Mathis had blocked the plate. Joe Torre, Major League Baseball's executive vice president of baseball operations, called the Phillies later to tell them a mistake had been made. The umpires correctly ruled Carlos Ruiz blocked the plate April 19 in a 3-1 loss to the Rockies at Coors Field.

The Phillies felt Mesoraco blocked the plate much like Mathis on April 13.

"I was waiting for the lane," Byrd said. "I was going to slide outside, try to get my hand in. But he was right on the plate. ... I thought I knew the rule, but I was wrong. I don't."

Said Mesoraco: "I always focus on catching the ball. If I would have stayed where I was at, I would've obviously given him more of home plate, but I would've gotten a tough hop. For me, I wanted to back up and make sure I caught the ball. It's such a hard rule to decipher and it's not black and white. My first goal is to catch the ball and tag the guy from there. If they want to call him out, they'll call him out. I think that I need to catch the ball and that was me getting in the best position I could to catch the ball and that was me getting in the best position I could to catch the ball."

After umpires confirmed the original ruling of the play, Sandberg walked onto the field for an explanation. Crew chief Tom Hallion ejected Sandberg almost immediately.

It was the first managerial ejection of Sandberg's career. He had been ejected once previously as a player.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for
Read More: Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies