By Chris Emma–
CHICAGO (CBS) — Cubs catcher Miguel Montero has never been one to hold back.
In his team’s win over the Padres on Monday, a collision at home plate between teammate Anthony Rizzo and San Diego catcher Austin Hedges resulted in a controversy over the interpretation of Rule 7.13. It’s a bylaw added in 2014 that prohibits catchers who don’t have the ball from blocking the pathway of a runner attempting to score and maintains that the baserunner can’t run out of the direct line to the plate to initiate contact.
Rizzo expressed that he had no intent to injure Hedges and believed it wasn’t a dirty play, while Padres manager Andy Green called it a “cheap shot.” Ultimately, the dust settled with a call from MLB chief baseball officer Joe Torre, who explained the rule more thoroughly to Rizzo. While the league informed teams that Rizzo was in the wrong, no punishment was levied on Rizzo, and all was well come Tuesday night.
But then there’s the opinion of Montero, who feels strongly that a catcher doesn’t need the protection of this rule.
“There’s times where you get caught in between because you don’t know what to do,” Montero said of Rizzo’s contact with Hedges. “I believe that’s what happened. I feel like Rizzo got caught in between. It was about a slide, and then it was a little too late to slide. I feel like he got caught in between. Same with (Chris) Coghlan. The only thing, Coghlan, (that) came to his mind was to jump.
“It’s the heat of the moment. It’s baseball. That’s why I think that rule is a terrible f—ing rule. The game (has been) played that way for a long time, and nobody ever bitched about it.”
Rule 7.13 was implemented prior to the 2014 season in part as a response to star Giants cathcer Buster Posey suffering a broken leg an three torn ligaments in a 2011 collision with Marlins rookie Scott Cousins. The rule is commonly known as the Posey Rule.
Ultimately, baseball believed that protecting catchers — many of whom are left defenseless behind the plate as a runner barrels in — was in the best interest of the game. Montero understands that catchers are being guarded by this rule.
“Yeah, but I don’t care,” he replied. “I don’t need the protection. I got plenty of protection. That’s why I don’t agree with that rule. I think it’s just BS, because as a catcher, you like those.
“Everything happened when Posey got hurt. It was the big guy, the guy that got hurt. Next thing you know, they want to get that rule away.
“As a catcher, you got to get yourself in a position where you can get the impact. (Posey) was in a bad spot. Both of these guys (Posey and Hedges) were in a bad spot. I won’t say that I was in a good spot if something happened to me. You got to look at it. If he got me good and I couldn’t take it and you’re hurt, it’s because I wasn’t in a good spot. Simple as that. As a catcher, you got to position your place for an impact. If you don’t do that, obviously you’re going to get hurt.”
Cubs manager Joe Maddon has expressed the same side as Montero, believing that the best play for Rizzo was to move for the plate as opposed to letting up.
“I loved it,” Maddon said after the game. “Absolutely loved it. That’s part of the game. If the catcher’s in the way, you hit him. Very simple.”
Montero is in agreement.
“Terrible f—ing rule,” he said. “Simple as that.”