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Protecting runner at plate important to Weiss

Protecting runner at plate important to Weiss

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies manager Walt Weiss is on board with proposed rules to reduce collisions at home plate, because he agrees with attention to player safety. But there is uncertainty because MLB has not settled on how the rule will be written.

As in the past, the Rockies will train catchers to make a portion of the plate visible to the runner before the ball arrives. The collision rule will have to address not only the runner taking a shot at the catcher, but the catcher having to give the runner the possibility of reaching the plate without contact.

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Catcher injuries, especially concussions, have been discussed. But runner injuries are possible.

For example, last April, Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who was trying to protect leg muscles that were a problem in the past, suffered groin tightness on a play at the plate when D-backs catcher Miguel Montero had the plate blocked completely. Tulowitzki was in no-man's land; with his injury history, he was not going to body check Montero in an early-season game. Tulowitzki played on and off for a period of time, but he at least did not have to go to the disabled list.

"As a runner -- I've never been on the catching side of it -- you have to make that decision well before you get to the plate," Weiss said. "Now if you look up and there's no plate, I know for me, those are the times I would try to run the catcher over. But it was a last resort. But you have to make that decision, probably, 15 feet from home plate."

Weiss noted that there is a safe medium.

"The good ones, a lot of them, that's what they did -- when you went to your slide, you saw the plate, but by the time you got to the plate it was gone," Weiss said. "There's an art to it, and I'm sure there still will be, even if the rules do change. But I'm always in favor of protecting players."

Weiss noted that the so-called "neighborhood play" at second base, where the fielder will get the benefit of a doubt whether he is or is not in contact with the bag on a force play with the runner sliding, is a player safety issue. Weiss agrees with the fact it will not be reviewable in whatever replay system is instituted.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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