In similar fashion to when San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey suffered a broken leg due to a home-plate collision in May of 2011, Major League Baseball is attempting to respond with another rule change following a significant injury.
Chase Utley’s hard slide into second base during the seventh inning of Game 2 of the National League Division Series gave the Los Angeles Dodgers momentum, but also broke New York Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada’s leg.
Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre hinted at change in the aftermath of Utley’s slide. “I don’t know if I’m supposed to say this, but in the fall league we’re having the players work on sliding directly into the bag, just to see how that works and stuff,” Torre said after Game 2.
According to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, a rule change is being considered:
#MLB considering rule change that would require runners to slide directly into 2B on possible double plays; union approval required.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 10, 2015
Currently, so long as the baserunner is within reach of second base with their hand or foot during their slide, they are permitted to go wide of the bag in attempt to break up a double play.
Prior to Tejada’s injury, Chicago Cubs outfielder Chris Coghlan ended Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang’s season with a takeout slide in mid-September.
Kang underwent surgery to repair a tibial plateau fracture with a lateral meniscal repair and was projected to miss six to eight months from the time of the procedure.
While the rule change would be implemented with a goal to eliminate injuries such as those suffered by Kang and Tejada, it may lead to later slides, which aren’t necessarily any less hazardous.
Utley’s slide serves as a prime example of that notion. More so than being wide of second base, Utley slid late. However, if MLB can take action to improve the overall safety of its players, even if only marginally, they certainly will aim to do so.