New rules: Before pitchers and catchers began their workout Tuesday morning, the club held a meeting with Major League officials about new rule changes for 2007.Major League Baseball vice president of on-field operations Bob Watson, umpire Charlie Reliford and umpire supervisor Marty Springstead went over 23 rule changes. Few were expected to be ground-shaking. "Many of the rules reflect what's already been in practice," Reliford said. "It was good," Reds catcher David Ross said of the meeting. "Just some wording and things, but it was nothing drastic. It was good to hear the umpires' perspective." One more noticeable change will be how dropped third strikes are handled by umpires from now on. If the batter leaves the area around home plate before he starts running, he will be called out and not allowed to go to first base. "The umpire will have discretion to stay that's far enough," Reliford said. "We were trying to avoid the situation at the end of an inning where a guy is two-thirds of the way to left field and somebody goes by and yells, 'Run!' Then you just have absolute chaos." The officials also informed the players that a new strike zone evaluation tool, called Z.E., would be installed at all 30 ballparks at some point this season. Z.E. will replace QuesTec systems, which are in place at less than half the league's stadiums. Some long hauls: One alteration not made for 2007, to some of the Reds' dismay, was schedule re-alignment. The unbalanced schedule continues to feature a majority of games vs. division rivals and far less against the rest of the National League. "I'd love to see the schedule changed where you play everybody in your league nine times at least," Reds manager Jerry Narron said. "I think that would be easy to do." The Reds were given a particularly challenging 2007 road schedule. They will have a Major League-high six road trips of at least 10 days this season. That includes four 10-day journeys and a pair of 11-day road trips. No other club has even five 10-day trips this season. The Yankees and Rockies are second with four 10-day jaunts scheduled. Coming up: Wednesday marks the scheduled report date for Reds position players. A majority of them, including most recent arrivals Brandon Phillips and Edwin Encarnacion, have already checked in. After morning physicals on Thursday, full-squad workouts will begin that afternoon.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.