Were it up to Miguel Montero, there would be no clear path slide rule for the Padres — or anyone else — to complain about.
“It’s the heat of the moment — It’s baseball,” the Cubs catcher said before Wednesday’s game. “That’s why I think that rule is a terrible (bleeping) rule. The game (has been) played that way for a long time, and nobody ever bitched about it.”
Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo slid into Austin Hedges on Monday night, injuring the catcher and infuriating the Padres. Hedges was removed from the game with a thigh injury, and hasn’t played since Monday night. He’s out of Wednesday’s lineup.
Tuesday, Rizzo was found to have violated Rule 7.13 — which says a runner must not deviate from his “direct pathway” to home plate “to initiate contact with the catcher” — but he was not fined or suspended.
Montero doesn’t believe the rule should exist at all. Told it was designed to protect him — and other catchers — Montero scoffed. .
“Yeah, but I don’t care,” he said. “I don’t need the protection. I got plenty of protection. That’s why I don’t agree with that rule. I think it’s just B.S., because as a catcher, you like those.”
He believes he knows why there was contact Monday.
“There’s times where you get caught in between because you don’t know what to do,” Montero said. “I believe that’s what happened. I feel like Rizzo got caught in between. It was about a slide, and then it was a little too late to slide. I feel like he got caught in between.”
Montero stated, correctly, the origin of the rule: a May 25, 2011, game in which Giants catcher Buster Posey’s leg was shattered by the Marlins’ Scott Cousins on a play at home plate. Before the 2014 season, Major League Baseball and the MLBPA approved Rule 7.13, in which catchers must allow a runner a direct path to the plate, and a runner must not initiate contact.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon said the Posey play was a result of poor technique on the catcher’s part. Giants manager Bruce Bochy told reporters, without mentioning Maddon by name, that “anybody who goes into that, they don’t know what they’re talking about, where Buster was on that play.” The former catcher sarcastically suggested that players should be allowed to run over defenders at first, second and third base, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, saying that catching gear is meant only to protect against foul tips.
Tuesday, White Sox catcher Kevan Smith called the change “definitely for the better,” saying he went on the disabled list twice in the minor leagues because of home-plate collisions.
“It makes it a cleaner game,” he said. “In a good way, on defense, it helps us focus on the ball a little more, maybe the short hops, and not worrying about getting trucked. On the offensive side, it kind of takes away from the excitement, takes away from maybe that little advantage of scoring that run. But overall, I think it’s better for injuries, better to keep us healthy. Our job are already tough enough, so the last thing we need is getting run over by a 240-pound guy coming down the baseline. So I like it.”
Montero, though, rejects the premise of the rule.
“Terrible (bleeping) rule,” he said. “Simple as that.”