The Yankees coaching staff has had some early conversations with their players about the new home plate collision rule, but Joe Girardi said the staff will do more work with the catchers — and the base runners — to put some adjustments in place.
“We’ve already started doing that, but I will go over it once I have the rule in my hand where I can read it to them and explain to not just the catchers but to the base runners,” Girardi said. “To me the rule is designed to get rid of the senseless collisions. Obviously as a catcher, if you choose to block home plate, they can run into you. But if you’re not blocking home plate, and you have a lane to slide, they want you to slide.”
The Yankees approach to the rule isn’t a Girardi invention, and it hasn’t come from Tony Pena. Girardi said it’s new bullpen coach, Gary Tuck — a former catcher — who’s going to teach the catchers’ adjustment.
“We will teach it one way,” Girardi said. “Obviously we don’t make everyone do it the same way. We want them to be comfortable, because if you’re not comfortable doing it one way, there’s a chance you aren’t going to catch the baseball because you’ll be worried about it, but we will teach it. Gary Tuck’s got a couple of different way to teach it, and we’ll go from there.”
Girardi said he considers it a catcher’s “prerogative” to block the plate when he has the ball, and he certainly hinted that the Yankees will still teach their catchers to keep the plate blocked when they have possession of the ball.
“I don’t know if it’s going to change a whole lot,” Brian McCann said. “As long as you give the guy the plate before you have the ball, it’s kind of the same rule. … We’re taught to be in the right position so if you do get run over, you’re not going to get hurt from it. When you catch the ball, you do have to be in the right position because you are vulnerable for ACL (injuries); you’re vulnerable for concussions. You don’t want to see anybody miss time because of that.”
McCann, who suffered a collision concussion back in 2008, called the rule change a “step in the right direction.”
Associated Press photos