Major League Baseball made its first major adjustment of the replay era on Friday, going back to a less strict interpretation of the transfer rule, effective immediately.
Starting Friday night, umpires will rule on catches the way they did in the past, using more of a common-sense approach rather than following the letter of the law, according to major-league sources.
A catch, forceout or tag will be considered legal if a fielder has control of the ball in his glove, but drops the ball after opening his glove to transfer the ball to his throwing hard, sources said. No longer will the fielder be required to successfully get the ball into his throwing hand.
Officials from the players’ union met with MLB executives last week to voice their displeasure over what constitutes a catch under expanded replay.
Both sides agreed that certain plays were being called incorrectly, and MLB officials worked this week with both the players’ and umpires’ unions to adjust the interpretation.
In the first four weeks of the season, umpires and replay officials occasionally have called "no catch" on balls that once were considered outs, ruling that the fielder must transfer the ball to his throwing hand cleanly.
The rulebook states that a player must have "secure possession" of the ball in his glove or hand, but the interpretation of the rule changed to include a clean transfer this season.