PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) – Over the last few seasons, Major League Baseball has adopted a variety of new rule changes, or implemented new policies that directly impact play on the field.
The 2016 season will be no different, and this year’s rule change directly affects the Pittsburgh Pirates.
In the rule change announced on Thursday by the league, base runners will have to be able to remain in contact with the base, and will not be able to slide through the bag. Moreover, the middle infielders must have their foot stay in contact with the base when turning double-plays, essentially doing away with the neighborhood play, which is now subject to replay reviews.
In 2015, the Pirates lost Jung-Ho Kang and Jordy Mercer for significant amounts of time due to knee injuries sustained in collisions with base runners at second base.
Mercer acknowledged that he’s on the fence about the new rule.
“It stinks being hurt, no question about it, it does,” Mercer said. “The other part of me is saying, ‘This is the game of baseball. It’s been played like this for a long time.’”
“I didn’t know the neighborhood play was going to be involved, too,” Mercer continued. “It’s something to wrap your head around, something I’ve got to figure out.”
Second baseman Josh Harrison took a more definitive stance, as he’s in favor of anything that helps protect players.
He told Pirates pre-game and post-game show host Dan Zangrilli, “We’re more than just baseball players. There’s life after baseball. The last thing you want is for life after baseball to be altered because of something that happened on the field.”
Harrison believes the onus of adjustment will be more on the fielder as opposed to the base runner.