TAMPA, Fla. -- When catcher Brian McCann was run over at home plate in July 2008, leaving him with a concussion, the hit was more or less chalked up as the accepted cost of doing business behind the plate -- one of the risks of playing a dangerous position.
McCann believes that the experimental rules announced this week by Major League Baseball could reduce such incidents, and that his particular play -- a helmet-to-helmet hit with Shane Victorino, then of the Phillies -- would have been avoided.
"I think it's a step in the right direction," McCann said. "For catchers it's that throw from right field [where] you're in no-man's land. You can't see the runner. You don't know if he's going to slide or run you over."
The newly added Rule 7.13 directs that a runner attempting to score may not deviate from his direct pathway to the plate to initiate contact, and also states that unless the catcher is in possession of the ball, he cannot block the pathway of the runner as he is attempting to score.
It does not completely outlaw collisions at home plate, leaving some discretionary room to umpires, who will also be able to use the replay system. However, runners who slide and catchers who provide a lane to the plate will never be found to be in violation.
"The rule is designed to get rid of the senseless collisions," manager Joe Girardi said. "Obviously, as a catcher, if you choose to block home plate, they can run into you. But if you're not blocking home plate, and you have a lane to slide, they want you to slide."
Catcher Francisco Cervelli, who has suffered a fractured wrist and concussions behind the plate, said on Tuesday morning that he wants to learn more about the specifics of the new rule.
"I always say I've got to take care of myself a little more, but the way I learned in the Dominican was that this is my house, and I've got to take care of my house," Cervelli said.
McCann does not believe that the new rule will alter much of his approach in terms of blocking the plate or receiving throws.
"You give them the plate, and when you get the ball, just make the tag," McCann said. "Let your instincts take over and be in the right position, and everything should be fine."