HOUSTON -- It's the first week of the regular season, and there's still plenty of confusion with regards to how catchers can block home plate.
Another scenario popped up in the second inning of the Angels' 5-1 win at Minute Maid Park on Saturday night, when Angels third baseman David Freese came around to score on Howie Kendrick's double. Astros catcher Carlos Corporan thought he had Marwin Gonzalez's relay throw in his glove when he shifted his weight to block the plate, but the ball squirted out and Freese was ruled safe with a head-first slide that almost injured his left hand.
Freese -- back in the lineup on Sunday -- said home-plate umpire Eric Cooper told him he would've been ruled safe anyway because Corporan didn't give him a lane to slide through when he didn't have the ball, and straddling the plate doesn't qualify as providing a lane.
But Astros manager Bo Porter disagreed, saying: "I think Corporan gave him a sliding lane. If Corporan would have come up with the ball and made the tag, he would have been out and Corporan dropped the ball, so it's a moot point."
A similar situation occurred in Toronto that same day, and umpires sided with Porter's point.
Blue Jays catcher Josh Thole straddled home plate to receive a one-hop throw from Colby Rasmus and tag out the Yankees' Francisco Cervelli. Umps reviewed the play, to make sure it adhered to the new Rule 7.13, and the on-field call was confirmed -- even though Thole was technically in Cervelli's way before he had the ball.
"The home plate dynamics are still evolving," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said regarding the play in Houston. "It looked like he was in the path before he had the ball. It's the trade-off of catchers not getting hit to the lane that a runner is entitled to, and it's something that's going to take some getting used to for sure."
Freese says he rarely goes into home plate head first, but felt he needed to because he didn't have much of a path to home plate.
"I regretted it when I was in midair," Freese said, smiling.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less