ShareThis Page

Play at plate draws Sanchez's ire

Rob Biertempfel
| Thursday, April 10, 2014, 8:12 p.m.
Home plate umpire Mark Carlson signals safe after the Cubs' Starlin Castro slid into Pirates catcher Tony Sanchez during the fourth inning Thursday, April 10, 2014, at Wrigley Field in Chicago.
Getty Images
Home plate umpire Mark Carlson signals safe after the Cubs' Starlin Castro slid into Pirates catcher Tony Sanchez during the fourth inning Thursday, April 10, 2014, at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

CHICAGO — A year ago, it might have been hailed as a textbook play.

Pirates left fielder Starling Marte made a perfect throw. Catcher Tony Sanchez caught it cleanly while on his knees, turned slightly to the left and seemed to make the tag before Starlin Castro slid into home plate.

On Thursday, however, home plate umpire Mark Carlson called Castro safe. And there was nothing the Pirates could do but accept it and move on in a 5-4 win against the Chicago Cubs.

“Infuriating,” Sanchez said. “You put your body on the line for your team, trying to save a run. I don't know what (Carlson's) reasoning was, how he calls him safe. The ball beat him. I held onto the ball, (and) the kid slid into me. It's just ... I don't know, unfathomable.”

Carlson did not invoke MLB's experimental new rule, which is designed to prevent home-plate collisions. Before a catcher has possession of the ball, he is required to give the runner a clear lane to the plate.

“I didn't have (Sanchez) violating any rules for the collision play,” Carlson told a pool reporter. “If he has the ball securely, he would have been able to block the plate. (Castro's) foot touched the plate before the catcher had possession and control of the ball.”

Apparently surprised by the call, Sanchez knelt with his head down for a moment. Wellington Castillo, who had singled to begin the play, alertly went to third base while Sanchez was preoccupied.

Manager Clint Hurdle went out for an explanation, but he did not challenge Carlson's call.

“I chose not to challenge,” said Hurdle, who had a large, laminated list of reviewable plays sitting on his desk after the game.

Hurdle declined to reveal why he did not challenge.

“I had a choice to make, and I chose not to challenge. That's all,” Hurdle said. “If I give you any other answer, we've got 10 more questions.”

Hurdle said he did not watch a replay of the play after the game and added that he does not regret passing on his challenge.

Sanchez, however, did see a replay and indicated he probably violated the collision rule.

“If the umpire would've called (Castro) out, the Cubs would've challenged it, and the (review) would've gone their way,” Sanchez said. “In the heat of the moment, when you've got a guy barreling down on you, you can't stop and think.

“I set up to give them a lane. The throw dictates where I position my body after that. If you run into me, good luck. I'll catch the ball and show it to the umpire, just like I did. But when he called him safe ... man, my blood was boiling.”

Sanchez paused and smiled.

“It's clear I'm not a fan of the new rule,” he said.

Sanchez is not alone. Earlier this week, managers Joe Girardi of the New York Yankees and Bo Porter of the Houston Astros complained to MLB officials about the no-collision rule.

Girardi told the Associated Press the rule has “a vague interpretation of what blocking the plate is” and needs to be clarified in writing.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.