FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Count Twins manager Ron Gardenhire as one of those who has his doubts about the effectiveness of the proposed rule change to prevent collisions at home plate.
The MLB Players Association has yet to formally approve the rule change, but it's likely heading that way. Gardenhire said he'll know more when he meets with the union on Sunday, but the new rule will now put the onus on umpires to make difficult decisions.
"My biggest fear through all this is that they're putting more on the shoulders of the umpires to make judgment decisions," Gardenhire said. "It's going to lead to issues, because it's a tough situation for umpires to be in. They have to make the decision whether the runner slid, should've slid or didn't have a chance to slide. They're going to put that on their shoulders because it's not definitive whichever way they go."
Gardenhire said he's still teaching his catchers the proper technique to protect the plate until he's told otherwise. But he said he's more worried about the baserunners than the catchers under the proposed rule.
"There's going to be times when a guy comes in there with no place to go and slides and he gets hurt and then you're going to have issues, because he can't protect himself as a runner trying to score and a catcher whacks him," Gardenhire said. "I'm more worried about my runners going in there than my catchers. They're going to have change what they do to score, which is scary because that's how you get hurt."
Twins catcher Chris Herrmann, who is fighting for a spot on the roster as a backup catcher behind Kurt Suzuki, said he's in favor of the rule change, however, especially after getting run over twice this offseason in the Dominican Winter League.
Herrmann injured his shoulder and ribs in the second collision and saw his winter ball season cut short as a result. Herrmann said he's fully healthy now, but would embrace the new rule change if implemented.
"I only caught 15 games and got ran over twice and the second time really banged me up and hurt my shoulder, my ribs and my whole right side, so it's crazy," Herrmann said. "I think it would protect the catchers a lot more and our health and safety. We're so vulnerable in that situation. We're just trying to catch a ball and then they're running us over."