Should MLB change rule on takeout slides?
After Kang's injury, Hurdle discusses rule with MLB official
LOS ANGELES -- Clint Hurdle placed a call Friday to Joe Garagiola Jr., MLB's senior vice president of standards and on-field operations. But not to complain about the Chris Coghlan slide that maimed Jung Ho Kang's left knee on Thursday night, costing him the rest of the season -- as Hurdle noted, too many people do nothing but complain.
The Pirates manager wanted discuss the rules that currently allow baserunners to veer five feet from the bag to take out middle men on double plays.
The subject is dear to Hurdle, because it has cost him dearly this season -- twice. On July 19, Jordy Mercer was leveled by Carlos Gomez, then of the Brewers.
"I think there will be some purposeful conversations going forward due to awareness of these two complications from hard, late slides … by definition, legal slides," said Hurdle, meaning a possible rule change similar to the no-collision rule enacted in 2014 for plays at the plate. "By definition, they were legal slides. Is there a way we can change the definition of 'legal slide' to possibly ensure better safety?"
"If we were going to write a rule today, what would be some of the thoughts you had?" Garagiola asked Hurdle.
Hurdle volunteered to do some homework. Through material provided by MLB and other sources, he studied hard slides for the last three seasons.
"I took on that hard task," Hurdle said. "I just researched them -- and there haven't been as many crashes of the nature we saw with Mercer and Jung Ho as everyone seems to think.
"[The topics discussed with Garagiola] were about sliding: Making sure there's ground before contact, not contact before the slide, not wanting the aerial foot up."
The upraised legs of both Gomez and Coghlan resulted in the injuries to Mercer and Kang.
Although the issue may seem personal for Hurdle, given the players affected, he is an ideal objective voice. He has a knack for knowing how to take a step back and look at a big picture.
For instance, he took measures to avoid emotion entering into his comments when meeting the media following Thursday's game with the Cubs in PNC Park.
"I didn't watch video of the play before talking to the reporters. I didn't want to see it before being asked about it."