The intent of the rule changes is to avoid unnecessary collisions at the plate, preventing a runner from going out of his way to crash into the catcher. Dunn, though, wants to know if any consideration was given to baserunners who might injure themselves by taking a last-second route to avoid making contact with the catcher.
“I see leg (injuries), fingers,” Dunn said. “Guys are going to have to slide more, so they’re probably going to do a lot more head-first sliding. It’s only been that way 100-something years.”
Dunn’s primary contention seemed to be that in the past when a baserunner was thrown out by 10-15 feet, he still had the home-plate collision at his disposal in order to score.
“For me, especially, when I was on second and got pinch ran for, I’ll always tell Robin (Ventura), ‘Ball might beat me, but I’ve got a decent chance of scoring still,’” Dunn said. “I can see myself getting pinch ran for quite a bit more. I’m pretty much useless.”
Even the threat of the collision was a tool baserunners used. Now, Dunn says the aesthetics of the play at home could get awkward.
“Guys pulling up and just letting the catcher tag you, that looks pretty bad,” he said. “I think you’re going to see a lot of that because if you’re out for 10 to 15 feet, where normally you had at least a chance to score. Slide when you’re 15 feet out? No, you’re just going to run and let him tag you and look like you’re not trying.”
Told that players could still crash into the catcher if their path to home plate was blocked, an exasperated Dunn felt as if the baserunner now has too many decision to make in a split second.
Paul Konerko, a former minor league catcher, joked that he was held at third base in Tuesday’s intrasquad game because nobody was sure of the new rule.
He had his own unique take on the change.
“We’ll have to see how that plays out; I almost feel bad for the umpires,” Konerko said. “It’s like the rule when a guy they feel is throwing intentionally at somebody they have to throw him out (of the game). We’ll have to wait and see. I’m guessing the reaction most times will be in favor of the catcher. If a guy gets run over they’ll say it’s the runner’s fault, which is why the rule is in place anyway, to protect the catcher.”