New MLB rule on home-plate collisions also will apply to minor leagues
Major League Baseball’s recently announced rule on home plate collisions will apply to all levels of the MLB-affiliated minor leagues in 2014, an industry source told FOX Sports 1.
MLB Players Association approval was required for MLB’s recent changes designed to "prohibit the most egregious collisions" – but not all collisions – at home plate. Since minor-league players aren’t protected by the MLBPA, the commissioner’s office could have mandated a more restrictive policy throughout the minor leagues. However, MLB elected to have the same rules apply at all levels of professional baseball.
MLB’s rationale appears to be that, since the new rules are being taught to minor leaguers invited to major-league spring camps, the rules ought to be consistent for all players who might be called up throughout the year.
In announcing the addition of Rule 7.13, MLB and MLBPA called it "experimental." It will be up for review after the season. Among other things, the rule stipulates that a runner "may not deviate from his direct pathway to the plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher," while catchers are not permitted to block the plate unless they are in possession of the ball.
The rule doesn’t mandate that runners slide. However, it requires that runners not lower their shoulders into catchers or push through with "hands, elbows or arms."