GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Major League Baseball and the Players Association jointly announced Monday that a new experimental rule on home-plate collisions will begin this season.
Rule 7.13 will ban "the most egregious collisions," by disallowing baserunners to deviate in their path to initiate contact with a catcher or any player covering the plate on a play. If the umpire believes a runner created contact, he can rule him out on the play even if the catcher doesn't hold on to a ball. Also, the catcher is unable to block the runner's path to the plate without the ball.
"I heard they wanted to do more and take away any type of contact at the plate at all. I wasn't quite in favor of that," Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco said. "What they have passed now I'm definitely in favor of. I think it makes a lot of sense. It takes away those unnecessary collisions. It's a play that's a lot of fun. I think nothing really gets a team going a whole lot more than a play at the plate."
The new rule does not mandate that runners must always slide, nor that catchers can never block the plate. Instant replay can be used to review possible violations.
Mesoraco does not expect to have to change his catching technique at the plate, but when the rule was still pending, he had talked about it with Reds catching coordinator Mike Stefanski.
"We talked about being more conscious of being safe at the plate, as opposed to trying to bury guys and run into them and make a lot of contact," said Mesoraco, who sustained a concussion from a 2012 collision with the Padres' Cameron Maybin. "At this point, it's smart for me to make sure I'm available to play every day. If I get hurt on a play at the plate by going to get the runner, that's my fault. I'm hurting the team by doing that."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.