OAKLAND -- Baseball is trying to reinvent the game, or at least smooth out some of the rough spots, and in Monday night's opener between the A's and the Indians, it's clear that there is still a ways to go.
To combat the spate of concussions and severe injuries that have come from collisions at home plate, the rulebook has been rescripted to make sure the base runner has access to the plate.
However, changing the rule and making the rule second nature are not the same thing. In the sixth inning Monday, A's starter Sonny Gray picked up a deflected grounder and threw the ball to catcher John Jaso.
Under the new rules, Jaso could not block the plate and was required to give access to base runner, Michael Brantley. The trouble is, in the heat of the play, Jaso had no idea if he was following the new rules. He wasn't even thinking about them.
"I have no idea if I blocked the plate or not," Jaso said after the game, a 2-0 Cleveland win. "Sonny gets that ball and I've got to grab it and put on the tag.
"The one thing I did do was I secured the ball before he was sliding. And once you secure the ball, you can do what you want. But I wasn't thinking about the new rules. I was just reacting."
Home plate umpire Mike Winters and Cleveland manager Terry Francona talked about the play, and then Winters decided to call for a review of his own decision. Talking with pool reporter Bill Arnold, Winters explained that for the umpires, too, the new rules are part of a learning process.
"Basically with the new rule, I just wanted to confirm what I saw on the field that the catcher (Jaso) did not block the plate unnecessarily," Winters said. "(Jaso) was in fair territory. He gave the runner plenty of plate to go to, and so I just wanted to be sure.
"I look at this as just another tool to help us get even more plays right."