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Cards see new collision rule as 'must slide, must tag' play for catchers

2014-02-17T09:53:00Z 2014-02-18T15:47:05Z Cards see new collision rule as 'must slide, must tag' play for catchersBy Derrick Goold dgoold@post-dispatch.com 314-340-8285 stltoday.com

JUPITER, Fla. • Major League Baseball has not yet finalized the wording for the new rule that will address collisions at home plate, but the Cardinals have already modified how they teach their catchers to protect themselves and the plate from baserunners.

A leading proponent of the new rule, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny -- who lobbied team and league officials in order to get the rule changed -- said drills have been rewritten this spring to prepare for a rule that is not yet in the books.

The Cardinals were long a team that gave the baserunner a point of the plate to slide toward without colliding with the catcher. Manager Tony La Russa emphasized that with his catchers to protect them from being steamrolled at the plate.

Now, the Cardinals are going to show the whole plate.

Home will be a tag play, similar to third base.

"Right now, we’re not just probably going to show part of the plate, we’re probably going to show the whole plate," Matheny said.

"We’re going to show the whole plate, give them somewhere to slide, and we’re going to have to be in position where we can make a tag until they get to that point."

Matheny spoke at length about the new approach this morning.

La Russa, visiting camp on Monday, joined Matheny, Jose Oquendo and Red Schoendienst on a back field to work on the new approach and offer suggestions and opinions. Yadier Molina was also heavily involved in the discussion. The Cardinals taped the whole workout so that they could revisit the drills as the approach evolves.

A full story will be posted at StlToday.com and in The Post-Dispatch.

He described for the media how catchers used to set up at the point nearest third base and, once they had the throw, would then move to block the plate. Now, as a third baseman often does, the catchers will set up on the first-base side of the plate and approach it as a tag play where the glove must be able to reach all points of the plate. They are just working through the mechanics of it now, and Matheny said the complete approach with the new rule will be adapted through spring and as the rule takes shape.

They're getting the catchers now to accept a new approach.

"We’re moving forward that it’s a must-slide, must-tag play," Matheny said. "We have to completely revamp the mechanics from where we set up to where and how we go about placing a tag. Our catchers have been extremely open to it, understanding the reasoning, and they’ve adapted real well. We’ve accomplished a lot in just two times working on it already. We’ve come a long ways figuring out mechanically what we can do."

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Derrick Goold covers the Cardinals and Major League Baseball for The Post-Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at @dgoold or on Facebook at Facebook.com/BirdLandPD

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