Cubs catchers benefitting from grasp of Rule 7.13

Written By BY BRIAN SANDALOW For Sun-Times Media Posted: 08/24/2014, 02:36am

After John Baker tagged out Chris Davis at home plate Friday to end the fifth inning of the Cubs’ 4-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles, Baker knew the play wouldn’t be overturned. Umpires indeed initiated a review, but the call was upheld after 55 seconds, and the Cubs were out of the inning.

Baker knew he was in the right place thanks to Mike Borzello, the Cubs’ catching/strategy coach, who recently talked to the league office to get a clearer understanding of Rule 7.13. That’s the controversial measure that was put in place to protect catchers from collisions at home plate but which also has led to confusion about where they can and can’t set up at home plate, occasionally turning outs into runs and angering managers and players.

In short, Baker said, a catcher has to set up with his left foot in fair territory before an outfielder throws into the infield, which would give a base-runner a chance to get to home plate unimpeded. That makes the rule a bit easier to understand for everybody.

‘‘I think just like that,’’ Baker said. ‘‘Keep your left foot inside the [third-base] line, and tell the baserunners to slide.’’

Closing argument

Hector Rondon picked up his 20th save in 24 chances Friday and converted a season-high sixth straight opportunity. He has thrown seven straight scoreless innings and has solidified a position that gave the Cubs fits earlier this year.

Not bad for a former Rule 5 pick who had a 4.77 ERA in 45 appearances last year.

‘‘It’s obviously a tremendous accomplishment — a young man who’s been chipping away at that role,’’ Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. ‘‘He’s had some hiccups along the way, obviously. Continues to develop his slider, his mix of pitches in order to get guys off his fastball because there was a point in time there when guys just started looking for his fastball and they were doing some damage with them or not allowing him to get through that particular inning. He started to make some adjustments.

‘‘It’s a good story.’’

Not theirs

The Cubs were one of the teams interested in signing Cuban defector Rusney Castillo, but the Boston Red Sox on Saturday announced they had acquired the 27-year-old outfielder.

Castillo was hosted earlier this month at a private workout at Wrigley Field but chose the Red Sox, who gave him a seven-year major-league deal worth a reported $72 million. That contract would be the biggest ever given to a Cuban defector, topping the $68  million for the White Sox’s Jose Abreu.

Pitching maneuvers

Renteria announced that Jacob Turner will make his first Cubs start Wednesday in Cincinnati and that Travis Wood will pitch Tuesday and Jake Arrieta on Thursday.

Turner was acquired from the Miami Marlins on Aug. 8 and has a 2.08 ERA in two relief appearances since joining the Cubs.

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