NEW YORK: Major League Baseball and its players union announced rule changes for the upcoming season on Friday that include an end to the controversial “rolling block” slide by runners into second base.
The new regulation is aimed at reducing unnecessary contact between fielders trying to turn double plays and base runners trying to disrupt their throws to first base.
Baserunners can still make contact with fielders as they slide directly into second base but they cannot deviate from their path to the bag, or roll into an opponent, in order to disrupt a throw to first base.
The rule will be reviewable by television replay.
Umpires are now required to make the call on whether a runner is making a slide into the base or is guilty of obstruction.
If an umpire rules there is a violation by a runner veering off line to disrupt the fielder, the runner and batter are both called out.
Also now eligible for video review will be fielders touching second base while in possession of the ball to record an out.
Two moves to hasten the pace of play were also adopted. Managers and pitching coaches will be allowed only 30-second visits to the pitcher’s mound and the break time between innings has been trimmed by 20 seconds, to 2:05 for most games and 2:25 for nationally televised games.
Pace of play changes trimmed the average nine-inning game last season from three hours, two minutes and 21 seconds to two hours, 56 minutes and 14 seconds.