Pirates Notes: The Black and Gold Game Will Have All the Pitching Prospects

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.

“Ask Jordy.”

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.”

  • The neighborhood play was to keep players from getting hurt. When base runners started to forget where the bag was caused a lot more injuries. Jordy, the rules state, you have to be on the bag with the ball. I think the biggest change is the runners cannot start their slid late. Most infielders can deal with runners sliding properly, but the two SS’s that got hurt last year was from Late slides.

  • They totally blew this rule, IMO. All they had to do was say:
    1. Runner’s feet or hands have to contact the bag first
    2. Runner’s feet and hands must be in line with the baseline
    3. If sliding, runner’s hips have to hit the ground before reaching the base.

    1 and 2 would make sure there were no sideways slides and no aiming for a fielder off the bag. 3 would take away the late slide.

    • Not bad…I would just say the runners’ body has to be in line line with the bag and be taking the most direct to it.

      This slide where the runner is two feet wide of the bag and he’s dragging his arm out to the side and hoping he can appear to be clipping it while his heels are aimed at a fielders’ shins has to stop.

      If the fielder has placed himself between the runner and bag…that’s his bad luck…otherwise…no.

  • Tim, hope you post video of the black and gold game, what am I saying I’m sure you will!

  • Speaking of Slide Rules, I still have mine in a box somewhere down in the basement.

    I’d have never made it thru Physics otherwise.

    I have NO idea how to use it anymore, tho.

    • Foo I heard you re-invented the abacus. The change was you used gum balls instead. I sat next to my future wife in Physics and she was a lot smarter then me.

  • But for the mom-in-law’s health problems, I would’ve been there. That would’ve been great to watch.

  • How about suspensions if an injury occurs?

  • Man, that would be a nice exhibition to see.

  • “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.”

    Only 30 seconds? Really?

    Average pedestrian walking speed is 4 ft/s, and the distance from dugout to mound at PNC is 90′. That’s 45 seconds of walking alone.

    Assume the actual discussion takes 15 seconds and your Manager/Pitching Coach is gonna have to be humping it out there at 8 mph, which is roughly an average running pace.

    This should be fun!

  • I’m not so sure the Coghlan slide would have been legal with these rules. IIRC he began his slide pretty late (which increased the force at contact) and despite reaching the base with his hand he had way too much momentum to actually remain on the base through the completion of his slide.

    • Hurdle said it would have been legal because Kang was in front of the base. At that point, anything is legal.

      • Thank you. That greatly changes my initial thoughts on the new rule. It seems a pretty simple concept to me that any slide that doesn’t end with the runner on the bag should be illegal since the intent of sliding is supposed to be to reach a base.

        • I agree wholeheartedly with you, AW. For decades, literally decades, M.L.B. has failed to enforce their own rule and for whatever reason has given base runners the latitude to knock infielders and catchers into the next zip code. I cannot state the rule number, or quote it, but I can accurately paraphrase it: Any base runner who intentionally interferes with a fielder’s ability to catch a ball or throw a ball is to be called out. I think that the trailing batter is supposed to be called out too in that situation. It’s very succinct, unambiguous, and even Stevie Wonder could see that Coglan and Chase Utley went out of the path to the base to nail Kang and Tejada, respectively, and that is a violation of the existing rule. WHY DO WE NEED A NEW RULE?!?!?! JUST ENFORCE THE RULE THAT HAS BEEN IN THE BOOK FOR DECADES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! JOE TORRE IS A JOKE AND A DISGRACE!!!!!!!!!!!!. I GUARANTEE YOU THAT IF JETER HAD BEEN SERIOUSLY INJURED DURING THE YANKEES RUN OF WORLD SERIES BERTHS DURING THE 1990’S THAT THE PROBLEM WOULD HAVE BEEN ADDRESSED MUCH MORE PROMPTLY AND EFFICIENTLY. A NEW RULE IS NOT NEEDED. JUST ENFORCE THE EXISTING ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!TO ME, THIS LATEST ANNOUNCEMENT IS MORE COMPLICATED THAN THE RULE THAT WAS ALREADY IN PLACE.

          • Very well said….and if Tejada (New York) didn’t get hit, and in a post season game, there would be no change. Just my thought.

            • Very good point, Chuck. The fact that Tejada plays for a N.Y. team more than likely enters into the equation. This whole discussion just absolutely stupefies me. Over the winter, Torre said words to the effect that “we’re looking at the situation and considering options”. WHAT IS THERE TO LOOK AT AND CONSIDER?!?!?!? ENFORCE THE RULE THAT EXISTS; END OF DISCUSSION!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • It should just be the college rule, where you have to slide directly into the bag, and not to the side.

          • That is definitely too easy for these folks. The more that is written, the more room for interpretation.

            Bucs 1971 is correct, but the directors of the league thought it best to interpret that loosely enough to allow for take-out slides at 2B. Anywhere else on the infield a runner cannot touch a fielder in the act of making a play on a ball in play – it is the runner’s responsibility to avoid contact. And, how many times over the years were players criticized for not sacrificing their bodies to break up a DP?

          • I agree wholeheartedly, Tim. Which is really what the existing rule says when you distill it down. It’s just not being enforced and hasn’t been enforced in what seems like forever.

      • They specifically mentioned the Kang play last night on MLB network and said it wouldn’t be legal because there is a clause about not throwing your legs at the infielder or something. They also said you can’t “roll block” into someone and I’m pretty sure that applies whether the fielder is in front of the base or not. But by Hurdle’s logic the Utley slide would’ve been fine too I guess.

        • Hurdle doesn’t want to be seen crying…..most all managers do it.

          • That’s fine and yeah, I would expect him to say that. I just meant that I don’t believe the play on Kang would be deemed legal and I certainly don’t think anything is fair game just because you are in front of the base.

      • In my opinion, Hurdle is wrong.

  • I disagree that the slide that injured Kang would be legal. He clearly changed his path, made contact above the knee and after he touched the base his hand came off meaning he wasn’t able to stay on the bag.

    • See above: Hurdle said it would have been legal because Kang was in front of the base. At that point, anything is legal.

      • You do have to wonder if Hurdle is interpreting this correctly for all the reasons stated above by battlingbucs. If Hurdle is correct than shortstops will have to change their path to second to gain the benefit of the rule’s protection. The replay addition for these plays gives me a sick feeling. In my opinion these frame by frame replay reviews are killing the flow of the game.

        • Hurdle was asked about Kang and his response was that when a fielder was in front of the bag, all bets were off.

          • That seems like the biggest area that MLB will have to get umps clarified on in terms of implementing the spirit of this rule.

            What constitutes “in front of the base” becomes really key. Kang’s is the real tough case because he is “in front” but also really far to the side. Though it wouldnt be a major change for fielders to understand they simply have to swipe by the bag but stay behind it.

          • Tim, I am not disagreeing with you about what Hurdle said. I can”t believe he is right or that that is how the rule will be applied.
            You should not be able to:
            miss the bag
            roll block
            come in high and above the knee
            slide away form the base to make contact
            leave the bag
            All because the shortstop crosses the bag and moves towards first?
            Think of all the stupid frame by frame replays of whether he was moving ever so slightly forward at the time of collision.

      • Tim, look at the play again and tell me Kang was in front of the bag. He was on the second base side.

    • agree, and lifted is leg to strike Kang’s leg just below the knee.

  • Just to make sure I have this straight, if the runner sliding into second does not make an attempt to go for the base and goes instead at the person who is trying to turn the DP the runner on his way to first base would be ruled out?

  • What’s the penalty for not getting back to the dugout in 30 seconds? Do they have to cross the foul line in 30 seconds or be in the dugout?

    • I’m not exactly sure. When we talked to everyone yesterday, they were just finding out the basic info. In fact, Mercer didn’t know about the changes until someone explained it to him while we were waiting to talk with him. So more specific details will come out in the future.

      • Let’s hope the specifics make sense and can be practically applied in the games without a replay every time.