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December 12, 2013

MLB intends to ban collisions at home plate

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Major League Baseball plans to eliminate home plate collisions, possibly as soon as next season but no later than by 2015.

New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson, chairman of the rules committee, made the announcement Wednesday at the winter meetings. Player safety and concern over concussions were major factors in the decision.

“Ultimately what we want to do is change the culture of acceptance that these plays are ordinary and routine and an accepted part of the game,” Alderson said. “The costs associated in terms of health and injury just no longer warrant the status quo.”

Alderson said wording of the rules change will be presented to owners for approval at their Jan. 16 meeting in Paradise Valley, Ariz.

“The exact language and how exactly the rule will be enforced is subject to final determination,” he said.

Approval of the players’ union is needed for the rules change to be effective for 2014.

“If the players’ association were to disapprove, then the implementation of the rule would be suspended for one year, but could be implemented unilaterally after that time,” Alderson said.

The union declined comment, pending a review of the proposed change.

Former All-Star first baseman Tony Clark, who became head of the union this month, said in November: “Suffice it to say, the players have some thoughts of their own regarding home-plate collisions.”

Discussion to limit or ban collisions has intensified since May 2011, when San Francisco’s Buster Posey was injured by Florida’s Scott Cousins. Posey, an All-Star catcher, sustained a broken bone in his lower left leg and three torn ligaments in his ankle, an injury that ended his season.

“This is, I think, in response to a few issues that have arisen,” Alderson said. “One is just the general occurrence of injuries from these incidents at home plate that affect players, both runners and catchers. And also kind of the general concern about concussions that exists not only in baseball but throughout professional sports and amateur sports today. It’s an emerging issue, and one that we in baseball have to address, as well as other sports.”

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