Essentially, catchers without the ball need to provide a lane for the runner to reach the plate, but catchers already in possession of the ball can block the plate. Runners do not have to slide, but cannot lower their shoulder or otherwise change direction in order to make contact with the catcher.Adam Rubin
Anthony Recker is OK with the newly agreed upon rule reducing home-plate collisions.
Mets catchers have been instructed not to ever fully block the plate, out of safety concerns, although Recker said he might deviate on occasion in the heat of the moment.
"It's kind of like the unwritten rule has become the written rule -- don't block the plate without the ball and don't try to run me over unless I'm ready, I guess," Recker said. "They can't really run you over at all because they're not allowed to lower their shoulder. They're not allowed to use their elbow. All that stuff. It looks like it's pretty much a slide rule. I'm still allowed to block the plate as long as I have the ball. It seems like it's a pretty fair rule. I like where it's at right now.
"We'll see how it works out, because I guess it's on an interim basis, just for one year."
As for the Mets' instruction to catchers not to block the plate even with possession of the ball, Recker added: "Knowing myself, I'm not going to try to be a tough guy, but if it calls for it, then I think it's the right thing to do. Me, knowing that they can't run me over, knowing that they can't change direction, it takes a lot of the necessary aggressiveness out of it, which is good. Before I always felt like I had to be aggressive, because if I wasn't, I could get hurt. Now it doesn't seem so much that way."
So what is the runner supposed to do if the catcher already has the ball and is completely blocking the plate?
"If I'm five feet in front of the plate, he can't really get to the plate," Recker said. "I guess in that case he could [initiate contact]. But he can't lower anything. He can't use anything to his advantage. Pretty much he's out. There's not much he can do.
"It'll be interesting to see how it works out this year. I'm sure they'll get the kinks out, if there are any."