BRADENTON, Fl. – I can’t think of a better day to have three people covering Spring Training for the site than Monday for the annual Black and Gold game. Clint Hurdle announced the pitching matchups today, and the game will feature Jameson Taillon going up against Tyler Glasnow, pitting the top two pitching prospects against each other. But it gets better from there.
Taillon will start for Team Black, and will pitch two innings. He will be followed by Steven Brault and Chad Kuhl, who will each throw two innings.
Glasnow will start for Team Gold and will also pitch two innings. He will be followed by John Holdzkom, who will pitch one inning, and Trevor Williams, who will pitch two.
If you’re keeping track at home, that means this game will have:
**All five of the Indianapolis pitching prospects (with the disclaimer that not all of them will start in Indianapolis at the beginning of the year)
**The top two pitching prospects in the system
**Two other pitching prospects in the top 20, and one more in the top 25.
**Another top 50 prospect and the top relief pitching prospect in the system.
Wilbur Miller will be taking photos of the game, and Sean McCool will be down to help me with the game coverage. We’ll have a lot of content, making sure you get a chance to see all of the pitchers in action, plus a detailed writeup of the game.
MLB Changes the Slide Rule
Yesterday, MLB announced changes to the rules on sliding into second base, which came as a result of the Chase Utley/Ruben Tejada play in the playoffs, and of course the Jung-ho Kang play with Chris Coghlan (who was ironically traded by the Cubs minutes before the rule change was announced).
The new rules state that runners who are trying to break up a double play must make a “bona fide slide” to the base. The term “bona fide” seems to be the short hand and official term for the slide, and in order to make a “bona fide”, you need to meet the following rules:
**The runner must begin his slide before reaching the bag.
**The runner needs to be able to reach the bag, and needs to reach the bag with his hand or his foot.
**The runner must remain on the base, rather than sliding past the bag.
**The runner can’t change his path to the bag to collide with an infielder.
It’s still possible for a runner to make contact with a fielder if they meet those four conditions, or if the fielder is in front of the bag. The runner does have to keep his legs and arms below the fielder’s knee. Under this rule, the Kang play from last year actually would have been legal. Any illegal play would result in the runner being called out.
Clint Hurdle spent over an hour with Joe Torre yesterday, getting the details of the rules.
“I think it’s a definite step in the right direction,” Hurdle said of the change.
Of course, Jung-ho Kang’s opinion on the change was a must-get.
“I’m up for it,” Kang said. “It’s safe for the players, and safe for the players who are in the double play situation.”
Not everyone was up for the change though. Jordy Mercer said he was on the fence about the move, despite being in a play where Carlos Gomez put him on the disabled list last year.
“Part of me is saying yes, because we obviously want to stay on the field,” Mercer said of the change. “Me personally being hurt, and Jung-ho too, it stinks being hurt. No question about it, it does. But the other part of me, this is the game of baseball, man. It’s been played like this for a long time. That’s why I’m on the fence about it. You don’t want to change the rules too much to affect the game, because it’s been played the same way for so long.”
As for the impact it could have in terms of adjustments, Josh Harrison feels it would be more difficult for the fielder than for the base runners.
“It might be more [difficult] for a fielder,” Harrison said. “As a base runner, if they tell you [that] you have to do this, you know you’re going to do it. As a fielder, we’re so used to guys going out of their way, it may take some getting used to as you clear your path and you think the guy is coming at you, but he’s not. But I think for a base runner, once they tell you that you have to go this way, I don’t think it will be as bad. Now for defenders, we’ve been doing it for how many years, trying to get out of the way? We’ll probably still be getting out of the way.”
The tradeoff here is that with the increased restrictions on sliding, the neighborhood play is now reviewable, which means — as Clint Hurdle put it — it will “put the middle infielders back on the bag.”
When Kang was asked about how this will change things in the middle infield, he had a funny response.
Okay then. How about it Jordy?
“That one is probably going to be worse than anything,” Mercer said. “As a middle infielder trying to get the ball out as quick as you can to turn a double play, it’s what you’ve been taught growing up, and now you specifically have to think about making contact with the bag, or catching it while your foot is on the bag and before you actually turn the double play.”
Harrison said that it probably wouldn’t be as difficult for a second baseman.
“Playing both positions, the shortstops probably get away with a little bit more, because second base you kind of get there and you’re standing at the bag waiting,” Harrison said. “Shortstops are flowing.”
One other rule change involved mound visits. Teams are now limited to 30 seconds for a mound visit, measured from leaving the dugout to getting back. That shouldn’t be a problem for Hurdle though, who is over his knee issues from two years ago.
“I’m moving such better, so maybe I can give my time to Ray,” Hurdle jokes. “We asked if we could bank the time if we get off earlier.”