The dubious interpretation of the transfer rule – possibly the biggest controversy that has come out of baseball’s new replay system – will be changed starting Friday, according to a FOXSports.com report.
The new rule, which altered the definition of possession to include the transfer from the glove hand to the throwing hand, was unpopular from the start. In recent days, the Orioles had been told that the rule would change soon.
And now it has. A catch is back to being a catch.
The Orioles were affected by the play twice. They were the beneficiary of the new interpretation in the first weekend of the season in Detroit.
During Sunday night’s nationally televised ESPN game against the Red Sox at Fenway Park, shortstop Ryan Flaherty dropped the ball on the exchange while attempting to turn a double-play at second base.
In the past, he would have received the out at second, but the transfer rule put runners at first and second and led to a big inning as Boston came from behind to beat the Orioles 7-6.
“That play specifically, I’m sure they’ll look at it and ask if that’s the way they want it called,” Flaherty said Thursday in Toronto. “I’m sure people want to protect the integrity of the game. Whatever they decide on that will be the right one.”
Over the first month of the season, reviews of that play weren’t overturned. So Orioles manager Buck Showalter didn’t challenge the call because he believed it would be a waste of time. Showalter said the umpire, Ted Barrett, even asked him if he was sure he didn’t want to challenge it. He didn’t want to leave his pitcher on the mound idle while the play was being reviewed.
Flaherty also knew the call wouldn’t be reversed.
“The second he called the guy safe, I knew I could put in my two cents but that that’s the way they’ve been calling it this year and we were going to be in trouble trying to win it,” he said.
** The Orioles will have an interesting decision to make when Manny Machado returns to the lineup – which could happen as soon as next weekend – on whether to remove hot-hitting Nelson Cruz from the No. 2 spot in the lineup.
In nine games batting out of the No. 2 hole, Cruz is batting .316/.395/.684 with 10 runs, four homers and 13 RBIs. With the way the Orioles’ lineup is set up, Cruz adds another slugger early in the batting order in front of Chris Davis and Adam Jones.
Machado hit out of the No. 2 spot last season and was a fine table-setter, leading the American League in doubles.
“I think Nellie, whether he’s hitting second or ninth or third or fourth, it’s not like he’s coming in here and catching people by surprise,” Showalter said. “He has a track record. Other teams know what he’s capable of doing. I think sometimes certain guys behind other guys might make a pitcher grip the ball a little differently. It’s not like they’re not trying to pitch around somebody, but the grip on the baseball gets a little different.”
Showalter said he knows firsthand about how hitting in front of power hitters can help.
“The whole think about who is hitting behind you and whatever?” Showalter said. “I hit in front Steve Balboni one time in Double-A and that did make a difference. They’d go 2-0 on me and look on-deck and ... it was right on a tee. One day he said he was going to take a day off and I personally treated him to try to make sure he played again. But I think Nellie would have done well regardless.”
** Asked about Wednesday’s pine tar situation involving Yankees right-hander Michael Pineda, Showalter was more irked by the fact that the ESPN dugout cameras at Fenway Park caught Yankees coaches consoling Pineda down the tunnel of the visiting dugout. Yankees manager Joe Girardi pushed the camera out of the way.
Showalter said that was interesting, since he said YES Network cameras caught Orioles center fielder Adam Jones down the tunnel of the visiting dugout of Yankee Stadium when Jones – frustrated by a strikeout – hit his batting helmet into the tunnel with his bat and then flung his bat.
“I know we had that same issue with Jonesy where the robotic camera was following him up the runway,” Showalter said. “It’s something they’re not supposed to be doing. That wasn’t ESPN. I think it was the YES Network. There’s got to be some place for guys to go. Adam tried to make a point of going someplace [he wouldn’t be seen] maybe not setting a good example to the world. But that got taken away from him.
“What got me was in the playoffs in 2012,” Showalter added. “I kept trying to find a place where [former pitching coach] Rick Adair and I could have a private conversation and we ended up almost in the bathroom at Yankee Stadium. I remember saying to Rick, and it was a tight ballgame. … Can you imagine two grown men sitting here in a bathroom trying to make a pitching decision and talk about things? You’ve got to go some place to have a private conversation with a player. Sometimes we take that too far."