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Originally published Saturday, April 19, 2014 at 5:07 PM

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Transfer rule has players wondering when a catch is a catch


Seattle Times staff reporter

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MIAMI – When does an out appear to be an out, but it’s not really an out? When it is reviewed under the new “transfer” rule guidelines.

Suddenly the simple process of a player catching a baseball and removing it from his glove has become quite complicated.

For years, the act of catching a ball seemed to be one act and the act of taking the ball from the glove to throw it has been another.

But not this year.

With the introduction of instant replay, there have been a rash of controversial calls where players appear to make a catch of the baseball and then bobble the ball as they take it from their glove. It’s no longer considered an out.

How did this happen?

Here is the official listing in the Major League Baseball rulebook:

“A CATCH is the act of a fielder in getting secure possession in his hand or glove of a ball in flight and firmly holding it; providing he does not use his cap, protector, pocket or any other part of his uniform in getting possession. It is not a catch, however, if simultaneously or immediately following his contact with the ball, he collides with a player, or with a wall, or if he falls down, and as a result of such collision or falling, drops the ball. It is not a catch if a fielder touches a fly ball which then hits a member of the offensive team or an umpire and then is caught by another defensive player. If the fielder has made the catch and drops the ball while in the act of making a throw following the catch, the ball shall be adjudged to have been caught. In establishing the validity of the catch, the fielder shall hold the ball long enough to prove that he has complete control of the ball and that his release of the ball is voluntary and intentional.”

So when Kyle Seager caught the throw from Yoervis Medina for a key force out at third base in Friday’s night loss to the Marlins, by that standard it was a clean catch. He had secure possession of the ball.

Except it was ruled that it wasn’t a catch

Why?

With the introduction of instant replay this year, MLB tried to outline what constitutes a catch and what doesn’t. It left the rule up to interpretation with umpires and muddled what had been viewed as standard procedure before. MLB released a statement re-outlining the rule. The statement:

“Umpires and/or replay officials must consider whether the fielder had secured possession of the ball but dropped it during the act of the catch. An example of a catch that would not count is if a fielder loses possession of the ball during the transfer before the ball was secured by his throwing hand.”

By that rule, Seager did not make the catch.

Still, this seems to go against everything that’s taught in baseball.

“It was a catch at every other level I played at,” Seager said.

Manager Lloyd McClendon could only shake his head after Friday’s loss.

“It’s just not right,” he said.

He isn’t the only one frustrated. Players and managers have voiced complaints loudly to both Joe Torre and Tony La Russa, who help represent MLB.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that officials from the MLB player’s union met with MLB executives to complain about this new interpretation of the rule and that both sides agreed that the play was being called incorrectly. MLB officials are reportedly going to have a conference call with the umpires union in the next few days to try to fix the problem.

Until then, if you catch a ball, it’s best to just hold on to it.

To tweet or not to tweet

Red Sox rookie shortstop Xander Bogaerts deleted his Twitter account on Thursday. It wasn’t because fans were sending negative replies to him – though that happens with most pro athletes.

No, he accidentally posted a photo of a woman that was wearing minimal clothing to his 40,000-some followers. When notified of what he did, he deleted the account.

“Once I found out, I had to do the right thing and correct it. One thing’s for sure: I don’t want any distraction on the team or for me,” Bogaerts told reporters. “No one’s perfect, you know? Be a man and just face the situation. Once I found out, I took it out.”

Like most teams, the Red Sox have people in the organization that talk to players about social media and the problems it can lead to.

But that doesn’t mean Bogaerts won’t rejoin Twitter.

“Why not? It was a mistake,” he said. “Everyone learns from their mistakes.”

Around the bases

• Yu Darvish has pitched 22 innings in three starts this season. The Rangers have scored one run with him in the game and seven runs overall in those games. They are hitting .121 while Darvish is in.

• Padres right-hander Josh Johnson was sent to see noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews about his strained right forearm. Johnson underwent elbow surgery in October and Andrews was the surgeon.

Doug Fister is slowly working his way back from a strained lat muscle. He will make four rehab starts and hopes to debut for the Nationals between May 7-10.

Raul Ibanez homered off Bartolo Colon on April 13. It was the 35th time in MLB history that a batter over 40 hit a homer off a pitcher over age 40.

Ryan Divish: 206-464-2373 or rdivish@seattletimes.com.



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