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Francona in favor of new 'neighborhood play' rules

Chisenhall, Cowgill could form productive platoon
MLB.com @MLBastian

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Indians manager Terry Francona was pleased with the new rules announced by Major League Baseball and the MLB Players' Association on Thursday.

Specifically, Francona was pleased to find out that MLB is doing what it can to eliminate "neighborhood plays" and takeout slides. Under the new guidelines, baserunners are to slide directly toward a base and the fielders must step on the bag. If a manager feels a fielder did not step on the base, that kind of "neighborhood play" will now be reviewable with instant replay.

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Indians manager Terry Francona was pleased with the new rules announced by Major League Baseball and the MLB Players' Association on Thursday.

Specifically, Francona was pleased to find out that MLB is doing what it can to eliminate "neighborhood plays" and takeout slides. Under the new guidelines, baserunners are to slide directly toward a base and the fielders must step on the bag. If a manager feels a fielder did not step on the base, that kind of "neighborhood play" will now be reviewable with instant replay.

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"I like it," Francona said. "I've never understood the neighborhood play. If you're supposed to step on the bag, you're supposed to step on the bag. It's like the phantom tag. If you put the tag down, but don't tag the guy, he's safe. I also understand they're trying to not get guys carted off the field. This will be a good rule."

MLB and the MLBPA also extended the pace-of-game initiative by limiting mound visits by managers and coaches to 30 seconds.

Tweet from @Indians: Information on rule changes for slides at second, pace of game initiative: pic.twitter.com/UrzWDGiuHY

Around the horn
• Indians right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall has hit .261 (.727 OPS) in his career against righties and .241 (.660) against lefties. This offseason, Cleveland acquired outfielder Collin Cowgill, who has hit .271 (.733) against lefties and .200 (.528) against righties. It is possible that the Indians will create a pseudo-platoon with Chisenhall and Cowgill in right field this season.

"That certainly could be," Francona said. "[Cowgill] can do more than that, though. He's a guy that can play some center, too. He's got a pretty unique skill set. In our situation, he complements some guys really well."

• Left-hander Brady Aiken, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow, is currently throwing bullpen sessions twice a week at Cleveland's Arizona complex. Aiken was selected in the first round of last summer's MLB Draft by the Indians and is currently ranked fourth on MLB.com's Top 30 Indians prospects list.

• Left fielder Michael Brantley (right shoulder surgery) continues to make progress in his rehab, but he remains limited to hitting off a tee. Francona noted that outfielder Abraham Almonte, who has fought back spasms in recent days, increased his activity level on Thursday and took part in outfield drills during the morning workout.

• A little more than one week remains for the Indians' petition to honor Bob Feller with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his military service in World War II. The petition currently has fewer than 15,000 signatures and needs 100,000 by March 4 in order to reach the White House.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast.

 

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