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Salty not a fan of new potential collision rule

Salty not a fan of new potential collision rule

MIAMI -- Expanded instant replay is now official, and in the near future, so could be a rule change that bans home-plate collisions.

At last week's quarterly Owners Meetings in Arizona, Major League Baseball chief operating officer Rob Manfred said: "We fully expect we're going to make an agreement."

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Any new rule must also have the approval of the Major League Baseball Players Association and the World Umpires Association. Protecting players is a high priority. But like any change, there are varying opinions. Marlins catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, for instance, favors the status quo.

Appearing on "First Pitch" with Jim Memolo and Todd Hollandsworth on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM last week, Saltalamacchia candidly states where he stands on the topic.

"I wasn't a big fan of it," Saltalamacchia said.

The 28-year-old noted MLBPA executive director Tony Clark sought his input on changing the rule.

"I told him I don't agree with it, I think it should stay the same," Saltalamacchia said in his radio interview. "If you take that away, then you take away a lot of different things at the plate. You take the aggressiveness from the third-base coach to send [the runner]."

From a technique standpoint, Saltalamacchia added catchers will have to adjust how they anticipate bang-bang plays.

"You take away my approach on how to block the plate," he said. "Now, I've got to kind of learn a different way on what I have to do. I've got to figure out the rules to begin with. And then I've got to spend a lot of time in Spring Training trying to figure out what's the best way to go about it, and how to still save the run, because a lot of games can be decided by one run."

Catcher safety has become a hot topic, and there has been growing support to avoid unnecessary roughness at the plate.

Two high-profile managers -- Bruce Bochy (Giants) and Mike Matheny (Cardinals) -- have advocated a ban on collisions. Both are former catchers, and their opinions have carried weight in bringing about change.

In May 2011, the Marlins were involved in one of the highest-profile collisions in recent memory when Scott Cousins barreled over San Francisco's Buster Posey, who missed the remainder of the season. Marlins manager Mike Redmond, a former catcher, understands the risks of playing the position. He also sees the importance of protecting players.

Saltalamacchia has become a major investment in Miami.

After winning the World Series with the Red Sox, Saltalamacchia signed a three-year, $21 million contract with the Marlins in early December.

"That's a tough one because I think as a player, I don't know that I minded the collisions," Redmond said at the Winter Meetings in December. "As a manager, obviously, with the concussions and the injuries, I want to protect my guys. I don't want them to get hurt, because I need them.

"I'm not sure exactly the answer. But I know that we're working on that and working on protecting guys. I know that there is a solution out there. What it is, I'm not sure yet. But I don't want to see guys get hurt, and I know we're going to work on trying to protect these guys."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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