Following serious injuries to Jung Ho Kang and Ruben Tejada on double-play attempts in 2015, Major League Baseball on Thursday announced rules changes that are focused on avoiding those types of injuries going forward.
“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,” MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said in a statement. “I am optimistic that this new rule will accomplish those goals.”
An amendment to Rule 6.01 is Rule 6.01(j), which on slides on potential double plays, runners will be required to make a bona fide attempt to reach and remain on the base. Runners can still make contact with fielders, if the slide is deemed permissible. Illegal slides can be reviewed by umpires, as well as the so-called “neighborhood play,” which was not reviewable a year ago.
Rule 6.01(j) reads as follows:
Sliding To Bases On Double Play Attempts
If a runner does not engage in a bona fide slide, and initiates (or attempts to make) contact with the fielder for the purpose of breaking up a double play, he should be called for interference under this Rule 6.01. A “bona fide slide” for purposes of Rule 6.01 occurs when the runner:
(1) begins his slide (i.e., makes contact with the ground) before reaching the base;
(2) is able and attempts to reach the base with his hand or foot;
(3) is able and attempts to remain on the base (except home plate) after completion of the slide; and
(4) slides within reach of the base without changing his pathway for the purpose of initiating contact with a fielder.
If the umpire determines that the runner violated the rule, he can call the runner and batter out.
As for changes in pace of game, the time between innings has been cut by 20 seconds, to 2:05 for locally televised games and 2:25 for nationally televised games. Managers and pitching coaches also have 30 seconds to make mound visits.
Pace-of-game changes a year ago helped cut the average time of game to 2:56:14 from 3:02:21, a 6:07 reduction.