Sandberg backs proposed ban on home-plate collisions

Posted: February 21, 2014

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Ryne Sandberg shared a dugout with Pete Rose when he made his major league debut 3 decades ago.

Like Rose, Sandberg valued playing the game hard. When Rose ran over a catcher to score a run for the Phillies, Sandberg and anyone else in the dugout obviously would be thrilled, not only to see their team score a run but also because they respected a good, hard baseball play.

Major League Baseball reportedly is set to ban home-plate collisions, something first discussed as a serious possibility at the winter meetings in December. The rule likely will go into place if the umpires union and players both approve.

Despite his baseball upbringing, Sandberg supports the rule.

"In some ways, I'm old school on that play at home plate," Sandberg said. "But in other ways, I wouldn't want to lose my catcher for 6 months."

In 2011, the year in between his team's two World Series titles, Giants All-Star catcher Buster Posey was lost for the final 4 months of the season after he was on the wrong end of a violent collision with Scott Cousins, of the Marlins. Posey won the National League MVP the next year.

Carlos Ruiz isn't an MVP, but he is a former All-Star who has had trouble staying on the field with various injuries. He's also a vital cog in the Phillies' lineup whom Sandberg doesn't want to risk losing for any reason, especially a preventable one.

"When you're talking about front-line catchers, those are big pieces of the puzzle, big parts of the team - very important," Sandberg said. "I've seen the baserunners go out of their way to put the catcher in harm when home plate is right there. I've seen them go out of their way, to bowl them over just to bowl them over. After hearing the conversations and seeing everyone's feedback, I agree with that."

Sandberg, a former second baseman, said it's really no different from a baserunner veering off the basepath to knock down a second baseman en route to an unattended bag. He's also glad for the timing of the rule's implementation, which will allow every team adequate time to work on the basics of the play.

"It's good for the teaching of catchers to get their footwork and to cover the rule," Sandberg said. "Not only to teach the catchers where they're supposed to be to abide by the rule, but also to be in the best position to get the out at home plate. Once we do get the rule, we'll go over it. I know it'll make sense because of the committee that's been put in place. All in all, it's a good idea."

Ryan Howard was excused from yesterday's workout to attend to a personal matter, which wasn't related to his health. Howard will return to action in the team's workout today . . . According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Phillies are among the teams in talks with Cuban free-agent infielder Aledmys Diaz. The Cardinals, San Francisco Giants, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves and Seattle Mariners also are involved, according to the Post-Dispatch. Diaz, 23, can play shortstop, second and third base, but reportedly prefers shortstop . . . The Phillies will hold an intrasquad game free to the public at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla., on Tuesday at 1 p.m.

On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21


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