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Baker happy with 'compromise' of new collision rule


MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs' John Baker called the new rule involving catchers a "great compromise" and feels it will be successful. On Monday, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association added Rule 7.13, which covers collisions at home plate, on an experimental basis for the 2014 season.

The rule states a runner may not run out of a direct line to the plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher, or any player, covering the plate. The rule also states the catcher may not block the pathway of a runner attempting to score unless he has possession of the ball.

"To my understanding, it's exactly the same as the college rule that a lot of us played under," Baker said Tuesday. "It makes a lot of sense, and I like some of the language in the rule, and that they talked about how the umpires will have discretion on the ball on the line because that's the thing we were worried the most about.

"There's going to be incidental contact when the baserunner is coming in and the throw is up the third-base line," he said. "We didn't want to put ourselves in a position where we catch the ball and tag the guy but they say we were blocking the plate because we didn't have the ball. That's going to make pitchers very frustrated."

Baker said umpires will not only use their discretion but also have instant replay to help them make decisions on close plays.

The Cubs were working on sweep tags but Baker said the problem there could be runners trying to hook slide behind the catcher. Baserunners could reach their hands back and catchers would be at a disadvantage because they couldn't cover the plate.

"I think as the rule stands now, we catch the ball, we can now move into that position," Baker said. "I think it's a great compromise, and I think it'll be a rule that'll be successful this season."

The goal of the rule is to protect everyone from serious injury.

"Baserunners understand they can get hurt as well," Baker said. "Obviously, the catcher is in such a compromised position, looking one way, trying to catch a small five-ounce object with a 235-pound man running full speed at you, you know that's in the back of your mind. This kind of gives us a little bit of peace of mind that we know we're not going to get blasted trying to pick that tough throw in the dirt."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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