Ban on plate collisions only can help catching-deficient Cubs
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Staff Reporter February 23, 2014 9:31PM
Updated: February 25, 2014 11:11AM
MESA, Ariz. — Of all the rule changes in baseball the last three offseasons, the Cubs finally might have had one go their way with the ban on home-plate collisions this year.
“There’s such a scarcity of catching in today’s game, not unlike quarterbacks in football,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. “It only makes sense to make rule changes to keep them healthy and behind the plate.”
Catcher is the most deficient position in the organization. Six months ago, Hoyer called it a “priority over the next couple of years.”
Last year, the Cubs had to add a catcher to the 40-man roster just to cover a late-season injury scare to backup Dioner Navarro for two days.
Managers and players still aren’t sure how the new rule will play out at game speed, but outlawing the kind of collision that cost Giants All-Star Buster Posey most of 2011 only can help the Cubs.
“It helps a lot,” Cubs catcher Welington Castillo said. “At the same time, you’ve been working the other way your whole life. I don’t know how it’s going to work.”
MLB officials are meeting with managers this week to review details of rule changes involving plate collisions and expanded replay, ahead of exhibition openers.
Castillo already uses a sweep tag to avoid collisions.
“You cannot go out and play thinking, ‘I don’t want to get hit; I don’t want to crash because then I’m hurt,’ ” said Castillo, who hasn’t had a bad one in his pro career. “That’s my position. What can I do about it? If somebody gets me, they get me.
“I think [the new rule] is going to benefit us. I hope it works at the end of the day for me and other catchers.”