SCOTTSDALE — Months removed from the controversial slide by Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley in Game 2 of the 2015 National League Division Series in which New York Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada sustained a broken leg, there is still a debate about whether the slide by Utley was clean or dirty.
“I just look at it as it’s playoff baseball,” Diamondbacks infielder Chris Owings said. “The adrenaline is going, you are just trying to break up the double play. You look at both sides and you can have arguments for both sides.”
On Thursday, Major League Baseball looked at both sides and chose Tejada’s side in announcing a new rule to prevent injuries. MLB also announced a rule to improve the pace of play. Managers and pitching coaches will have timed 30-second mound visits.
Rule 6.01 (j) states a runner must make a “bona fide slide” when attempting to break up a double play or he will be called for interference. The runner must: begin his slide before reaching the base, has to attempt to reach the base with his hand or foot, must remain on the base (except home plate) after the completion of the slide, and slides within reach of the base without changing his pathway with a purpose to initiate contact with a fielder.
Brandon Drury, who has been rotating between second and third base this spring, agrees with the MLB rule.
“It’s a good rule for me at second base,” he said. “I think it’s going to keep guys at second more protected.”
Drury said, as a runner, it will take a little time to get used to but in the end not a lot will change.
“It’s definitely a different part of the game,” he said. “You are taught to take the guy out and to prevent the double play and help the team win. It will take time but it’s still baseball at the end of the day.”
Owings was second on the team last year with 351 assists and third with 75 double plays and remembers a time during his minor league career when he was on the wrong end of a double play.
“My first year in pro ball, I got taken out by a guy that was like 6-6, 250 pounds and you know you just have to make an adjustment,” he said.
“You have to do your job as a middle infielder and get out of the way. After having that experience, I have made it a priority to get out the way so I can stay healthy and stay on the field.”
Infielder Phil Gosselin said breaking up double plays is a routine aspect of baseball and, in the end, it’s about avoiding injury.
“I have been taken out before, that is just part of the game,” he said. “It is what it is. It’s going to happen. Guys are going to slide in there but you do your best to get out of the way and obviously stay healthy.”