MIAMI — Miami Marlins left fielder Marcell Ozuna executed two perfect throws to help his ballclub beat the New York Mets on Friday night. Lost in the shuffle was Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s work at the plate.
MLB implemented new rules this spring to cut down on home-plate collisions.
In both plays, the Mets challenged whether Saltalamacchia blocked the pathway of the runner attempting to score. He cannot do so unless he had possession of the ball. If the catcher blocks the runner before, he can be called safe.
"There’s definitely some things that need to be clarified down the road with that rule," manager Mike Redmond said.
Following the game, the Mets expressed their displeasure at the calls not being overturned.
There appears to be uncertainty as to what is allowed and what isn’t. Saltalamacchia believes there might be some leeway the first few months of the season for catchers to figure things out.
"I understand that part of it but there’s no video of what you can and can’t do," Saltalamacchia said. "I think that’s the one unclear thing. If you catch the ball and you’re blocking the plate the runner’s allowed to run you over. I don’t mind that as a catcher because I have plenty of time to protect myself. Runners I think aren’t sure of what they can and can’t do."
On Ozuna’s first throw in the eighth inning, David Wright tried scoring from second on Eric Campbell’s single to left. The throw beat him by a large margin, so he never had a chance to make a move.
Mets manager Terry Collins and Wright called for a challenge, arguing he didn’t have anywhere to slide.
"On a play like that when the guy’s out by so much, how can you overturn that?" Redmond said. "I think that’s the part of the rule they’ve tried to enforce is if the guy’s out he can’t be safe on a technicality. That’s the way I interpret it."
In the game-saving play in the ninth, Ozuna’s throw reached Saltalamacchia just as Kirk Nieuwenhuis approached. He never touched the plate and couldn’t avoid the tag.
Had the last out been overturned and tied the game?
"(Backup catcher Jeff) Mathis would have been in the game," Saltalamacchia said. "No manager, couple bench coaches, a pitching coach. I thought it was a pretty clean play. There was no deceiving of any sort"
KEEP HIM THERE?
Would Redmond consider leaving Ozuna in left when Christian Yelich returns from the 15-disabled list on June 29?
"Of course," Redmond said. "When you see plays like that happen, it definitely makes you think maybe Yelly can play center a little bit more often. Over the course of the year how many plays would we have at home on balls? I can’t remember a whole lot.
"He’s so good in center, too. That’s the beauty of (Ozuna), and he can play right as well. We have that flexibility with him and Yelly, too.
Ozuna started 64 games in center this season until making his big-league debut in left this week with Jake Marisnick recalled from Triple-A New Orleans and in center.
The 23-year-old began his major-league career in right when Giancarlo Stanton went down with an injury in the early part of 2013. Through 36 games in right, he recorded five assists. He added another three in center when Stanton returned.
"Last night we had him in the right spot," Redmond said.