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Slide rule hot topic as Clark holds meeting

MLBPA executive director visits with Pirates at Spring Training
MLB.com

BRADENTON, Fla. -- While the Pirates appreciate the additional safety granted by Major League Baseball's new rules regarding slides into second base, there was still some uncertainty around the clubhouse about how they would be put into practice.

So it's no surprise that, during the club's annual Spring Training meeting with MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark on Saturday, the revised rules were a major topic of conversation. The Pirates lost two shortstops, Jordy Mercer and Jung Ho Kang, to takeout slides last season, and Kang is still recovering from the serious injuries he sustained on Chris Coghlan's attempt to break up a double play.

BRADENTON, Fla. -- While the Pirates appreciate the additional safety granted by Major League Baseball's new rules regarding slides into second base, there was still some uncertainty around the clubhouse about how they would be put into practice.

So it's no surprise that, during the club's annual Spring Training meeting with MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark on Saturday, the revised rules were a major topic of conversation. The Pirates lost two shortstops, Jordy Mercer and Jung Ho Kang, to takeout slides last season, and Kang is still recovering from the serious injuries he sustained on Chris Coghlan's attempt to break up a double play.

Clark said the MLBPA will closely listen for players' feedback throughout Spring Training as they get used to sliding and fielding under the revised rules.

Video: CHC@PIT: Kang exits with fracture after double play

"You never really know what's going to happen until the games start being played and guys start trying to interpret and appreciate what the rule says and does," Clark said. "Any time you make an adjustment or a tweak, if you have Spring Training to take a look at that, you take full advantage of it."

The new rules were announced on Thursday, mandating that a baserunner must attempt a "bona fide slide" by making contact with the ground in front of the base, being able to reach the base with his hand or foot and remain on the bag or sliding without changing his path to make contact with an infielder.

"It's going to be weird because we've always been taught to break up the double play," second baseman Josh Harrison said. "I think you still might see some guys like, 'Aw, shoot, I've got to go back towards the bag.' Spring Training will be a good test for that."

Shortly after the new rules were announced, Mercer mentioned that there was a "give and take" with the new slide rules and the fact that the neighborhood play at second base is now reviewable. Infielders must make sure they touch the base before throwing the ball to another base, but they should be safer to do so.

Video: PIT@MIL: Mercer carted off field after injuring leg

"The last thing we want to do is put anybody in harm's way as a result of what we did here," Clark said. "We weren't going to have a conversation about one without having a conversation about the other. Where we think we landed offers the best combination of support and review that we can have, understanding of course that we may have to tweak it."

The Pirates were the fourth team Clark has visited so far this spring. With the current Collective Bargaining Agreement between MLB and the players' union set to expire after this season, Clark discussed a number of other issues with the Pirates.

"Each of the four already has created a trend that, as a result of the prep work we did going [into a bargaining year], a lot of the conversation is about the slide rule, something that just happened, as opposed to the issues a lot of the guys have," Clark said. "We already have a pretty good feel for those."

Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry.

 

Pittsburgh Pirates, Jung Ho Kang, Jordy Mercer