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Molitor discusses double-play rule change

Special to MLB.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Major League Baseball and the Players Association announced changes to the slide rule on double plays as well as adjustments to the pace-of-game rules on Thursday.

Under new Rule 6.01(j), which has been added to the existing Rule 6.01 on "Interference, Obstruction, and Catcher Collisions," slides on potential double plays will require runners to make a "bona fide" attempt to reach and remain on the base. Runners may still initiate contact with the fielder as a consequence of an otherwise permissible slide. A runner will be specifically prohibited from changing his pathway to the base or utilizing a "roll block" for the purpose of initiating contact with the fielder. Potential violations of Rule 6.01(j) will be reviewable using instant replay. Also reviewable will be "neighborhood play" calls, which previously were exempted from replay review.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Major League Baseball and the Players Association announced changes to the slide rule on double plays as well as adjustments to the pace-of-game rules on Thursday.

Under new Rule 6.01(j), which has been added to the existing Rule 6.01 on "Interference, Obstruction, and Catcher Collisions," slides on potential double plays will require runners to make a "bona fide" attempt to reach and remain on the base. Runners may still initiate contact with the fielder as a consequence of an otherwise permissible slide. A runner will be specifically prohibited from changing his pathway to the base or utilizing a "roll block" for the purpose of initiating contact with the fielder. Potential violations of Rule 6.01(j) will be reviewable using instant replay. Also reviewable will be "neighborhood play" calls, which previously were exempted from replay review.

"Our goal in amending the slide rule was to enhance player safety, reduce incidents of injury and to do it in a way that respects and preserves the bona fide hustle plays that are integral to our game," said Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark. "I am optimistic that this new rule will accomplish those goals."

MLB chief baseball officer Joe Torre and umpire supervisor Charlie Reliford are expected in Twins camp on Friday to go over the new rules.

"We'll see how it plays out, but they're obviously concerned about second base, to some degree," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "And it's a matter of enforcing the rule maybe a little bit more stringently, as well as the fact they added a clause in there, that will describe in A-B-C-D fashion what a bona fide slide is. If the criteria for [a bona fide slide] are met, it will not be a case of interference. It'll be something we'll at least need to discuss with our players and make sure they're up to speed on that.

"I'd like guys to still be able to play the game. If a double play unfolds slowly, there's a poor throw, the ball gets bobbled, I don't think you allow their miscue to give the guy a free shot at a double play. If you're afforded more time in how they handle the play, and you do what you're supposed to do, you hit the ground and your momentum carries you and you're able to disrupt the pivot, that's fine. We don't want to veer into him. There are certain things you don't want to see happen. I like the fact that [breaking up a double play] is part of the game, if you do it according to the rules. That's the way it should be."

The pace of game program will expand this season to include timed 30-second visits to the pitcher's mound by managers and pitching coaches. In addition, break timers will now mirror the time allotted to broadcasters between innings: 2:05 for locally televised games and 2:25 for nationally televised games, a reduction of 20 seconds each from the 2015 season, when the timers counted down from 2:25 for local games and from 2:45 for national games. The change aims to allow players to more closely match the resumption of play with the return of broadcasters from commercial breaks. The vast majority of last year's newly implemented pace of game initiatives will continue in 2016.

"Last year's pace of game experiment yielded positive trends that we hope to repeat in 2016," Clark said. "Our agreement for this year carries forward rules that were effective last season, and also introduces some new concepts that are aimed at making further improvements."

Worth noting

• In two seasons with the Twins, right-hander Ricky Nolasco is a combined 11-14 with a 5.64 ERA.

"It hasn't gone particularly well here between performance two years ago and more injury-related last year," Molitor said. "My conversation with Ricky indicates to me that he understands where he's at in his career. He thinks he's got a lot of pitching left. And he seemed very focused. He understands there's competition, he's not assuming he's going to be handed anything. And you know when Ricky is healthy and spins it the way he can, commands his fastball, he's definitely a guy that can contribute. He's young enough and hopefully he's healthy enough to do those things. It would be good for us if that happens, obviously."

• Molitor said left-hander Randy Rosario "caught some eyes" in his bullpen session on Thursday.

Byung Ho Park and Carlos Quentin got some extra work at first base on Thursday. "We brought them over for some fundamentals, so they got acclimated to how we do our PFPs before the whole group gets started," Molitor said.

• The Twins' annual golf tournament, a fundraiser for a Fort Myers cancer charity, was held Thursday afternoon. Many of the players and coaching staff were planning to play. Asked who the team's best golfer is, Molitor replied: "Good question. Bruno [hitting coach Tom Brunansky]. I heard [Brian] Dozier's pretty good. I've never played with him. Chad Allen, kind of a Minor League dark horse. I don't know. [Kyle] Gibson's supposed to be good."

Maureen Mullen is a contributor to MLB.com.

Minnesota Twins