Porter says plate collision rule needs clarity

TORONTO (AP) Major League Baseball’s new rule on home plate collisions is causing some confusion.

Houston Astros manager Bo Porter had a telephone conversation Wednesday with Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa, currently a special assistant to baseball commissioner Bud Selig. Porter said La Russa told him the league intends to clarify its rule on blocking the plate, and how such calls are challenged and reviewed.

”My understanding is there will be a memo coming out that will bring some more clarity to it,” Porter said before the Astros played the Blue Jays on Wednesday night.

MLB spokesman Michael Teevan said he wasn’t aware of any plans for a new memo.

Porter telephoned La Russa after Astros outfielder L.J. Hoes was called out at the plate on an infield grounder in the eighth inning of Tuesday’s 5-2 loss.

That made him the second manager in four days to pick up the phone after a call at home plate.

On Saturday, Yankees manager Joe Girardi spoke to Joe Torre, an MLB executive vice president, over his concern there was ”confusion to the rule.” New York’s Francisco Cervelli was called out trying to score against Toronto, even though Blue Jays catcher Josh Thole was straddling the plate before receiving the ball.

”I believe this is going to be the toughest overall for (umpires) to get right all the time,” Girardi said after Saturday’s 4-0 loss to Toronto. ”To me, it’s a vague interpretation of what blocking home plate is and I think it needs to be in writing.”

In January, baseball adopted a new rule on plate collisions on an experimental basis for this year. Under the rule, catchers are prevented from blocking a runner’s path to the plate unless they have possession of the ball.

”It’s a rule that was … agreed to late, and I don’t know if everything has been completely ironed out,” Girardi said Sunday.

Porter said he planned to speak to the umpiring crew during the exchange of lineup cards before Wednesday’s game to ask for their interpretation of the rule, and the challenge process on those plays.