Orioles infielder Ryan Flaherty says he's pleased that Major League Baseball announced Friday that it would revert to the old interpretation of a catch on a transfer play.
With a slight smile, though, Flaherty said, "it's about four (or so) days late."
Flaherty became the poster boy for interpreting the rule in its previous form after he dropped a ball while attempting to turn a double play in the seventh inning of Sunday's 7-6 loss to the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
With one on and no outs, Grady Sizemore hit a comebacker to pitcher Zach Britton, who threw to Flaherty at second base. Flaherty caught the ball, but when he attempted to transfer it from his glove to his throwing hand, he dropped it.
In past years, the out would have been an out since Flaherty clearly had the ball in his closed glove. But in this year's new interpretation, the runner was ruled safe. Both runners scored to tie the nationally-televised game.
On Friday, MLB's Playing Rules Committee offered its explanation on how those "transfer plays" should be viewed, and, starting immediately, a legal catch will be called if the fielder has full control of the ball. So a force out or tag out will be ruled even if the ball is later dropped on the transfer.
"I think it is the right move. Baseball has played that way for 100 years," Flaherty said. "The bottom line is I probably should have turned the double play. That's the way the rule was at the time and so that's all that matters."
Flaherty said he doesn't think about the transfer from ball to glove while he is playing. He said he didn't realize the rule was being interpreted differently this year until his miscue.
"I didn't really know the rule [until] it really happened, to be honest with you, that they weren't calling it," he said. "I found out that pretty quick. It's back now and [we'll] move forward."
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he gives MLB credit for revisiting the decision.
"I applaud the fact that they did it quickly, all things considered," Showalter said. "We felt like this was coming."
He said he wasn't going to dwell on the loss to the Red Sox and what could have been because the Orioles also had the transfer call benefit them in a game against the Detroit Tigers in the first week of the season.
Showalter also said that all teams were told in spring training that umpires were going to interpret the transfer rule as it was written — and would call runners safe on a dropped transfer — and that information was passed down to all of their players and staff.
"It's not like we weren't forewarned. And we talked to our guys in the spring about it. We talked to our guys in the advanced meeting about it. Everybody knew. That's why there wasn't a whole lot of argument or whatever out there," Showalter said. "Shame on you if you haven't made your people aware of it. And anybody that comes out and complains about it must have not been listening at the meetings."
Lough faces the Royals
For the first time in his professional career, Orioles left fielder David Lough played against the Kansas City Royals, the team that drafted him in the 11th round in 2007 and then dealt him to the Orioles this December for infielder Danny Valencia.
"It's going to be weird to face guys that have been my friends for so long, but that's why we are here. We are athletes. We compete," he said. "We are up against each other now and let the best man win."
Lough, 28, said he understood why the Royals traded him in the offseason. They had outfield depth and wanted Valencia to help against tough left-handed pitchers. He said he's not viewing this series as a way to show the Royals what they missed.
"I don't think I need to go out and prove anything to them. It was a trade that was for certain reasons, for the lineup or whatever. They felt that guy was better suited for that roster," he said. "I'm just going to go out and play my game and go up against some of my friends, which is awesome."
Heading into Friday's game, Lough was hitting .191 with two doubles, a triple and a team-leading four steals in 15 games this season. He had his best game as an Oriole on Thursday in Toronto with three hits, three runs scored, two stolen bases and an outfield assist.
He went 0-for-4 with three strikes outs on Friday.
Showalter said he hopes Lough doesn't try to do too much during the series — and doesn't think he will.
"It's not some vindictive what-have-you. I don't think he has got to show them anything," Showalter said. "They called him to the big leagues and brought him through their system. He knows they like him. If we don't like him, I'll guarantee you they'll take him back."
Valencia has played sparingly for the Royals, going 3-for-11 with one homer in four games this season. But Showalter said he thinks both players could thrive in their new homes.
"We liked Danny Valencia, too. They both can impact a team," Showalter said. "So I think that's definitely going to be a trade I hope works out for both teams."
All-Star voting begins online Friday; at park on Sunday
Voting for the July 15 All Star game in Minneapolis began Friday online at mlb.com. Fans will be able to vote at Camden Yards starting Sunday. The online voting will continue through Thursday, July 3 and the voting at Camden Yards will continue through June 15.
The Orioles had three starters at the All Star Game last year in New York: first baseman Chris Davis, center fielder Adam Jones and shortstop J.J. Hardy and five total, including reserves Manny Machado and pitcher Chris Tillman.
Around the horn
The first pitch on Friday was delayed 55 minutes by rain. The game started at 8 p.m. … The Orioles held a moment of silence before the game for 17-year-old Edmondson-Westside student Michael Mayfield, who was shot to death last week in West Baltimore. Mayfield was a former member of the Orioles' RBI baseball program. … Former Oriole Jeremy Guthrie, who pitched for the Orioles from 2007 to 2011, will start for the Royals on Saturday night. He is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA in two games against the Orioles. … Tillman is scheduled to pitch the first game of the Pittsburgh Pirates series on Tuesday at Camden Yards, but Wednesday's Orioles starter is currently listed as TBA. … UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey was supposed to throw out Friday's ceremonial first pitch, but couldn't because the game's start time was pushed back. Rousey is in town for UFC 172 at the Baltimore Arena on Saturday. … Towson University running back Terrance West will throw out Tuesday's ceremonial first pitch.