MLB roundup: Major League Baseball moves to ban collisions at home plate
ORLANDO, Fla. — Home-plate collisions, long the staple of highlight reels, are soon to become a thing of the past in the major leagues.
Major League Baseball’s playing-rules committee recommended outlawing the collisions Wednesday during the Winter Meetings at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort.
The rule must be approved by both the 30 major league owners and the Major League Baseball Players Association in order for it to be implemented in time for next season. Otherwise, it can be unilaterally imposed by the committee for the start of the 2015 season.
“The exact language and how exactly the rule will be enforced is subject to final determination,” said committee chairman Sandy Alderson, the New York Mets’ general manager. “We’re going to do a fairly extensive review of the types of plays that occur at home plate to determine which we’re going to find acceptable and which are going to be prohibited.”
Alderson said putting in the rule is an attempt to reduce the number of injuries that occur in collisions, especially concussions.
“There a general concern about concussions that exists not only in baseball but throughout professional sports and amateur sports,” Alderson said. “It’s an emerging issue, and one that we in baseball have to address as well as other sports.”
Home-plate collisions are banned on all levels of amateur baseball, and Alderson said MLB likely would pattern its rules after those in high school and college. Umpires will have the option of ejecting any runner attempting to knock a catcher off his feet, and that player also might be subject to being fined and/or suspended.
“It has to do with a number of different things, positioning, intent, a variety of things that we are going to look at,” Alderson said. “Umpires will have some discretion, but at the same time, umpires have other things to do deciding whether the run scores or doesn’t score. So it’s a little more complicated than it would appear.
“I think ultimately what we want to do is change the culture of acceptance that these plays are ordinary and routine and an accepted part of the game, that ... the costs associated in terms of health and injury just no longer warrant the status quo.”
n Milwaukee Brewers manager Ron Roenicke went to bat for outfielder Ryan Braun at baseball’s winter meetings, calling the outfielder a good young man who made a mistake.
Braun was suspended by Major League Baseball for the final 65 games of the regular season in 2013 because of ties to the Biogenesis anti-aging clinic in south Florida and performance-enhancing drugs.
Since the suspension, Braun admitted his mistake. He originally challenged a failed drug test after the 2011 season and won his arbitration case. That season, he was named the National League MVP.
“If you are OK with people making mistakes — which I certainly am — you’ve got to look at what kind of person this guy is,” Roenicke said. “This is a good guy.
“Everybody knows he did some things he shouldn’t have done and we move on.”
Braun has served his suspension and will return to the Brewers next season. He is expected to move to right field.
n Right-hander Charlie Morton agreed to a three-year, $21 million contract extension that includes a team option for 2017, the Pittsburgh Pirates announced.
Morton, who was to be eligible for free agency after the 2014 season, will make $4 million in 2014, $8 million in 2015 and 2016, and $9.5 million or a $1 million buyout for 2017, according to a Yahoo! Sports report.
Since Morton was acquired from the Atlanta Braves in 2009, elbow and shoulder injuries have limited him to 338 innings in three seasons. But the 30-year-old pitcher returned in June to post a 7-4 record with a 3.26 ERA in 116 innings spanning 20 starts this past season.
n The Oakland Athletics traded left-hander Jerry Blevins to the Washington Nationals for minor league outfielder Billy Burns.
Blevins posted a 5-0 record with a 3.15 ERA in a career-high 67 games in 2013. The reliever has a 13-6 career record with a 3.30 ERA in 281 major league games spanning seven seasons with the Athletics.
Burns, 24, was the Nationals’ minor league player of the year in 2013 after batting .315 with 74 stolen bases this past season for Class A Potomac and double-A Harrisburg.
n The Seattle Mariners continued to be active during baseball’s winter meetings, acquiring first baseman/outfielder Logan Morrison from the Miami Marlins in a deal for right-handed reliever Carter Capps, according to reports.
The 25-year-old Morrison has struggled the past two years with injuries. He batted .242 with six home runs in 85 games for the Marlins last season. But he does have some pop in his bat, hitting 23 homers for the Marlins in 2011.
Morrison is expected to share duty in the outfield, at first base and at DH with Corey Hart, who also was acquired by the Mariners on Wednesday, and Justin Smoak.
The 23-year-old Capps was a 2011 third-round draft pick. In 53 games for the Mariners last season, Capps was 3-3 with a 5.49 ERA and 66 strikeouts in 59 innings. He has a 2.76 strikeouts-to-walks ratio in 84 relief innings the past two major-league seasons.
n Jerry Hairston Jr. announced his retirement, following a 16-year major league career, and will apparently join the Los Angeles Dodgers’ new television channel.
“After 16 seasons decided retiring is my best opportunity,” Hairston wrote on his Twitter account. “Game will not miss me but I will miss it and teammates immensely!”
Hairston was a versatile player, spending time at every position except pitcher and catcher. Over 1,442 major league games, he hit .257 with 70 home runs, 420 RBIs and 147 stolen bases. For the Dodgers last season, he hit .211 with two homers and 22 RBIs in 204 at-bats.
Hairston played for the Baltimore Orioles (1998-04), the Chicago Cubs (2005-06), the Texas Rangers (2006-07), the Cincinnati Reds (2008-09), the World Series champion New York Yankees in 2009, the San Diego Padres (2010), the Washington Nationals (2011), the Milwaukee Brewers (2011) and the Dodgers (2012-13).
The 37-year-old has a deal to serve as a pregame and postgame analyst for the club’s television broadcasts, according to Bruce Levine of Chicago’s WSCR-AM radio and 670thescore.com.
n The Los Angeles Dodgers plan to keep All-Star outfielder Matt Kemp, his agent Dave Stewart said Wednesday.
Stewart said he met with Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti on Wednesday and was told the team plans to keep Kemp rather than trade him.
“He said that they’re not going to move him,” Stewart said, via the Los Angeles Times.
Stewart said Kemp is pleased with the news.
“He never wanted to leave,” Stewart said.
The Dodgers have talked to several teams about Kemp during the winter meetings and earlier in this offseason, according to ESPN.com, and had even said they would take on some of the $128 million remaining on the center fielder’s contract over the next six seasons.
The 29-year-old Kemp is recovering from surgeries on his shoulder and ankle this winter, after a season in which he spent three lengthy stays on the disabled list.
Kemp played in a career-low 73 games, hit just six home runs and slugged a career-low .395 — more than 100 points lower than his career slugging percentage going into the season.
n The New York Mets and 40-year-old right-hander Bartolo Colon have agreed to a two-year contract worth $20 million, multiple media outlets reported.
Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com first reported the deal, which is still pending a physical.
Colon, who turns 41 on May 24, went 18-6 with a 2.65 ERA in 190 1/3 innings for the Oakland Athletics this past season. He was an All-Star and finished sixth in the AL Cy Young voting.
The Mets will be Colon’s eighth team as he enters his 17th major league season. He has a career record of 189-128 with a 3.94 ERA.
Colon was suspended 50 games for failing a performance-enhancing drug test late in the 2012 season.