Antelope Valley Press

MLB cracking down on obstructio­n in an effort to encourage more aggressive baserunnin­g Bohm beats Phillies in arbitratio­n, assuring players of winning record


SURPRISE, Ariz. — Ronald Acuña Jr. and Corbin Carroll just got a little more dangerous. Same for Bobby Witt Jr., Elly De La Cruz and the rest of baseball’s fastest players.

Major League Baseball wants umpires to crack down on obstructio­n, and the commission­er’s office outlined plans during a call with managers this week. MLB staff also will meet managers in person during spring training to go over enforcemen­t.

The increased emphasis is only on the bases and not at home plate. The focus is on infielders who drop a knee or leg down in front of a bag while receiving a throw, acting as a deterrence for aggressive baserunnin­g and creating an increased risk of injuries.

“I think with everything, they’re trying to make the game a little safer to avoid some unnecessar­y injuries,” Phillies shortstop Trea Turner said Friday at the team’s facility in Florida. “The intentions are always good. It comes down to how it affects the players and the games. I’m sure there will be plays where one team doesn’t like it or one team does.”

With more position players arriving at spring training every day, the topic likely will come up more and more as teams ramp up for the season.

“We’ll touch on that. We’ll show them some video of what’s good and what’s not,” Texas Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. “You know, it’s going to be a little adjustment.”

Making obstructio­n a point of emphasis fits in with an ongoing effort by MLB to create more action. Obstructio­n calls are not reviewable, which could lead to some disgruntle­d players and managers as enforcemen­t is stepped up, but it also means it won’t create long replay deliberati­ons.

A package of rule changes last season — including pitch clocks, bigger bases and limits on defensive shifts and pickoff attempts — had a dramatic effect. There were 3,503 stolen bases in the regular season, up from 2,486 in 2022 and the most since 1987.

MLB changed a different baserunnin­g rule this offseason, widening the runner’s lane approachin­g first base to include a portion of fair territory. MLB also shortened the pitch clock with runners on base by two seconds to 18 and further reducing mound visits in an effort to speed games.

“Last year, you know, a lot of our preparatio­n was around like, especially just the unknown of the clock and making sure like we’re really buttoned up on that,” New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “These guys are so used to it in so many ways that sometimes I even forget.”

Increased enforcemen­t could lead to more action on the basepaths. But a significan­t element of MLB’s motivation is injury prevention.

Top players have hurt hands or wrists on headfirst slides into bases blocked by a fielder. White Sox slugger Luis Robert Jr. sprained his left wrist when he slid into Jonathan Schoop’s lower left leg on a steal attempt during an August 2022 game against Detroit.

“It’s been happening for a while. It’s been getting out of control,” Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “I know some of the players complained about it the last two years.”

While acknowledg­ing his reputation as a significan­t offender, Phillies second baseman Bryson Stott didn’t sound too worried about his play.

“We like to fight for outs at second base,” he said. “It’s never on purpose, blocking the base. For me, or someone covering second to the shortstop side, it’s a natural move for your knee to go down to reach the ball. It’s never intentiona­l. I guess we’ll figure out how to maneuver around that.”

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Alec Bohm beat the Philadelph­ia Phillies in salary arbitratio­n on Friday, clinching the players’ first winning record since 2019.

The third baseman and first baseman was given a $4 million salary rather than the team’s $3.4 million offer by Brian Keller, Jeanne Charles and John Stout, who heard arguments on Thursday.

The 27-year-old Bohm hit .274 last year while setting career highs with 20 homers and 97 RBIs. He had a $748,000 salary and was eligible for arbitratio­n for the first time.

Players lead 8-6 with just one case remaining. Miami left-hander Tanner Scott was the final player scheduled for a hearing, asking for $5.7 million instead of the Marlins’ $5.15 million offer. A decision is expected Saturday from Robert Herman, John Woods and Allen Ponak.

Scott, 29, was 9-5 with a 2.31 ERA and 12 saves in 16 chances last season, when he made $2,825,000. He is eligible for free agency after this year’s World Series.

The 15 hearings were down from 19 last year, when the clubs won 13, but up from 13 in 2022, when teams won nine. Players had a winning record for the first time since going 6-4 in 2019.

A total of 198 players were eligible for arbitratio­n after the November deadline for teams to tender 2024 contracts to unsigned players on their 40-man rosters, and most reached agreements on Jan. 11, when teams and players exchanged proposed salaries. The highest deal was a $31 million, one-year contract between Juan Soto and the New York Yankees, who acquired the outfielder from San Diego in December.

Toronto All-Star first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. won a $19.9 million salary, the highest in an arbitratio­n decision, when a panel picked his figure rather than the Blue Jays’ $18.05 million offer. That topped the previous high of $14 million for Seattle outfielder Teoscar Hernández after he lost his hearing last year.

 ?? Associated Press ?? Chicago Cubs players run during a MLB baseball spring training workout on Wednesday in Mesa, Ariz.
Associated Press Chicago Cubs players run during a MLB baseball spring training workout on Wednesday in Mesa, Ariz.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States