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Rules corner: a potpourri of interesting plays that caught my eye during the 2013 season.


The Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Colorado Rockies 8-0 on July 2 in Denver. In the bottom of the sixth, the Rockies had D.J. LeMahieu on first and no outs when Josh Rutledge laid down a bunt that rolled between the pitcher's mound and the first-base line. Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, in an attempt to stop the ball, threw his glove at it. Fortunately for the Dodgers, the glove did not make contact with the ball. If it had, Rutledge would have been awarded third base and LeMahieu would have scored from first.

According to rule 7.05(c), each runner including the batter-runner may, without liability to be put out, advance three bases if a fielder deliberately throws his glove at and touches a fair ball." Umpires also can invoke the rule on batted balls that are foul but have a chance of rolling fair. The award is made from where the runners are at the time the ball was touched. If the batter-runner had first base made when the ball was touched, he would score.

Players throw their gloves at batted balls more often than you think. You only hear about it when a glove makes contact with the ball.

On May 28, 2005, the Diamondbacks trailed the Dodgers 4-2 when Arizona's Luis Terrero hit a soft fly over the mound late in the game. Dodgers pitcher Duaner Sanchez threw his glove and made contact with the ball in mid-air. Terrero was awarded third base. The play led to a rally and the D'Backs wound up winning the game, 5-4.

On such plays, the ball is not dead. If the batter-runner attempts to go for four bases, he can do so at his own risk. This of course would apply on balls hit to the outfield.

Maybe Dodgers manager Don Mattingly should call this rule the Sanchez-Kershaw law and hang it in the clubhouse.


Staying with the Dodgers, in their Aug. 8 game with the Cardinals, Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig speared a fly-ball in right center and flipped it from his glove to center fielder Andre Ethier. When the inning ended, second-base umpire Jim Joyce talked with Dodgers second baseman Mark Ellis, clearly letting him know that had Ethier or Puig dropped the ball on the flip toss, it would not have been a catch because it would not be a legitimate transfer.

Here's my question: if Puig did not make the proper transfer to legalize the catch, why should he get credit for the putout? Official scoring is not my cup of tea, but to be consistent with the playing rules, it would seem logical that Puig should get credit for an assist on the play and Ethier should get credit for the putout. Do you agree?


The ball remains alive if there is continuing action following catcher's interference. If all runners, including the batter-runner, advance one base on the play, the interference is ignored. Take what happened in the July 27 game between the Red Sox and Orioles at Camden Yards.

Boston had Stephen Drew on second base and one out when Jacoby Ellsbury singled to left field. Drew advanced to third on the play and Ellsbury reached first base. Ellsbury's bat met Orioles catcher Matt Wieters' mitt and plate umpire Tim Timmons called catcher's interference. The umpires incorrectly returned Drew to second base and kept Ellsbury on first base. Did one or more of the umps think the ball was dead?

Red Sox manager John Farrell alertly engaged Timmons and correctly argued that Drew should be allowed to remain at third base instead of being returned to second, because both the runner (Drew) and the batter-runner (Ellsbury) advanced one base on the play. Therefore, the interference should be ignored.

The umpires (Timmons, Laz Diaz, Mike Estabrook and Mike Winters) huddled and agreed with Farrell. They allowed Drew to remain at third and Ellsbury on first. Drew eventually scored to give the Red Sox a 1-0 lead in a game they won, 7-3. Because both Drew and Ellsbury advanced one base, the play was scored a hit instead of catcher's interference, which is scored as an error on the catcher.

Several Boston media members erroneously reported that Farrell had an option to take the play or the penalty. He did not. When all runners including the batter-runner advance one base and catcher's interference is called, there is no option. The play is treated as if there was no interference. If Drew was thrown out at the plate or Ellsbury at second base, the out would stand because both runners advanced at least one base, which negates the interference. If either or both runners attempted to advance further than the one base they made, they would do so at their own risk.

By the way, as of Sept. 1, Ellsbury had reached base via catcher's interference 10 times during his career, four times in 2013. Catcher's interference is like living in the low-rent district of baseball statistics, but catchers and umpires should be aware of players with multiple infractions. The fact that Pete Rose reached first base a record 28 times in his career via catcher's interference speaks volumes.


Rarely invoked rule 6.02(c) came to life in the Aug. 2 game between the Midland RockHounds (Oakland A's) and Corpus Christi Hooks (Houston Astros).

The rule reads: "If the batter refuses to take his position in the batter's box during his time at bat, the umpire shall call a strike on the batter. The ball is dead, and no runners may advance. After the penalty, the batter may take his proper position and the regular ball-and-strike count shall continue. If the batter does not take his proper position before three strikes have been called, the batter shall be declared out.

Comment: The umpire shall give the batter a reasonable opportunity to take his proper position in the batter's box after the umpire has called a strike pursuant to Rule 6.02(c) and before the umpire calls a successive strike pursuant to Rule 6.02(c).

Here is what happened. RockHounds third baseman Vinnie Catricala disputed a strike call and then took his sweet time getting back in the batter's box. This drew the ire of home-plate umpire Ron Teague, who then decided Catricala was in violation of rule 6.02(c) and called a strike. Strike Two! Catricola continued to argue out of the batter's box and Teague rang him up. Strike Three!

According to writer Mark Townsend, Catricala had two strikes called on him in 9.4 seconds without a pitch being thrown. The third strike was called while Catricala was arguing with Teague and was subsequently ejected. Did Catricala have a reasonable opportunity to take his position in the batter's box after Teague called the second strike?

That's umpire judgment. But theoretically because of rule 6.02(c), a pitcher can strike out a batter without throwing a pitch.

How about that!

Rich Marazzi is a rules consultant for the Yankees. Red Sox and Blue Jays. His web site is:; you can e-mail him at or you can write to him at 105 Pulaski Highway, Ansonia, CT 06401
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Title Annotation:BASEBALL
Author:Marazzi, Rich
Publication:Baseball Digest
Date:Nov 1, 2013
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