From the Associated Press (via ESPN.com):
Maybe this should be the Joe Maddon Rule.
A season after the Tampa Bay manager put outfielder Sam Fuld to the mound to warm up for the sole purpose of giving a reliever extra time in the bullpen, Major League Baseball closed the loophole.
MLB has amended Official Baseball Rule 3.05 regarding such shenanigans. The change will “prohibit a manager from sending his current pitcher out to warm up with no intention of having him pitch because a relief pitcher is not ready to enter the game.”
Maddon does raise an interesting question about all this:
“How do they know the intentions are not to pitch him? How would you know that? You could easily leave him in there for one hitter if you had to. My concern would be you could still send out your previous inning’s pitcher to warm up and then pull him out of the game before the first batter. That’s still OK, correct?”
What if the Rays, instead of being up 8-1, were down 11-1? Would the umpires have simply assumed that Fuld wasn’t actually going to pitch in a game that was essentially lost? It seems to me the umpires can’t know a manager’s intention until the manager actually makes the move for the guy in the bullpen. At which point it’s too late to do anything about it.
So while the Sam Fuld Rule makes sense in theory, I don’t quite understand how it’s going to work in practice. And I’m not at all surprised that Maddon immediately spotted the problem.
Rule 3.05 isn’t the only change in the book this year…
Bats with a scooped end on the barrel can have an indentation of 1 1/4 inches, up from 1 inch. And the word “baseline” has been replaced in spots by “base path.”
Also, the process for appealing an official scorer’s ruling has been changed. In the past, a team’s public relations employee would often ask the scorer to review a call. Now, a player’s agent will work with the union to appeal, then there will be a process between MLB and the union to reach a decision.
Good start… now we just have to get back to spelling it “base ball.”