JUPITER, Fla. -- MLB's new home plate-collisions rule has been met with both clarity and confusion at Marlins camp.
After months of speculation, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia is glad that guidelines are now in place.
"I understand what they're doing, they're protecting the catchers," Saltalamacchia said. "They're trying to eliminate the dirty plays. I'm for that.
"From what I understand, it's basically going to be the same. You just can't block the plate without the ball. I always thought that was a rule to begin with."
Still, after reading the rule, manager Mike Redmond notes there is some confusion over how the rule will be interpreted.
"There are definitely still some grey areas to this rule," Redmond said. "I think the meat of it is good. The targeting of the catchers is winning over. But I still feel like we're going to approach this thing the same way as far as our catchers, how we set up.
"We set up and give them the back part of the plate so they can either slide into it or reach with their hand. You can still block the plate as long as you have the ball. And that's what we're going to do. I don't think it's a huge adjustment for us."
The basics of the new rule are:
• The catcher may not block the pathway of a runner attempting to score unless he has possession of the ball. If the catcher blocks the runner before he has the ball, the umpire may call the runner safe.
• All calls will be based on the umpire's judgment. The umpire will consider such factors as whether the runner made an effort to touch the plate and whether he lowered his shoulder or used his hands, elbows or arms when approaching the catcher.
• Runners are not required to slide, and catchers in possession of the ball are allowed to block the plate. However, runners who do slide and catchers who provide the runner with a lane will never be found in violation of the rule.
• The expanded instant replay rules, which also go into effect this season, will be available to review potential violations of Rule 7.13.
Redmond, a former catcher, still is unclear if the baserunner can lower his shoulder to dislodge the ball, if the catcher is standing at the plate. The way the organization hears it, runners will not be allowed to extend their arms in an attempt to pry the ball free.
"What I've told our runners, you've just got to slide at home plate, that's the way it is," Redmond said. "The catchers, once they catch the ball, they're going to be able to block the plate. It's going to be interesting to see how those bang-bang plays at home, the instinct plays, how they work."
From a technique standpoint, the Marlins are relieved their catchers won't have to reprogram the way they set up to receive a throw and apply a tag.
"The only grey area I see, maybe, is on the runner's side of it," Saltalamacchia said. "Knowing he may have to slide, but if the catcher is in the way, you want to score. That might cause some issues. Hopefully not. I don't think there is any clear-cut way. I think this is probably the best way it could have gone. There is not going to be a happy side, unless it stays the way it is."