Yankees manager, infielders happy with change to transfer rule

04/25/2014 11:30 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

The new transfer rules should benefit Derek Jeter and the Yankees.(AP)
Major League Baseball's rules committee once again amended its theory on "the transfer rule" Friday, citing a "clearer interpretation of the play that occurs when a fielder loses possession of a ball while trying to transfer it from his glove to his throwing hand."

From Major League Baseball:

"The committee's determination is that an out has occurred whenever a player has complete control over the ball in his glove, and if he drops the ball after opening his glove, it will still be ruled an out. There is no requirement to successfully remove the ball from the glove for it to be an out.

"Also, if a player drops the ball while attempting to remove it from his glove in order to make a throw, the umpire will determine whether he had secured it in his glove before attempting the transfer. If the ball has been caught and controlled, it's an out even if the player drops the ball in the process of transferring it."

The rule change, effective immediately, is actually a reversion back to the way the rule had been enforced prior to this season. Over the first four weeks, the Yankees had already seen both the good and the bad -- and multiple times, at that -- of the modified rule, and manager Joe Girardi believes the switchback is actually in the best interest of the players.

"I think it's good. I think it was a huge adjustment for the players, because I heard them talking about having to focus so much on making sure they make clean catches," Girardi said. "It's not the way we've always done it where it's in the glove and you pull it out."

The Yankees were the beneficiaries of the "new" interpretation in the second inning of Thursday night's game in Boston. With Brett Gardner on first and no one out, Brian Roberts hit a grounder to third, but in the midst of trying to turn a 5-4-3 double play, umpires ruled Dustin Pedroia "dropped" the ball on the transfer, calling Brett Gardner safe at second and giving Pedroia an error.

The call helped lead to a three-run inning for the Yankees, all on a play where in the past, Gardner would have at least been out on a 5-4 force.

"I don't think it went the way people quite expected it to. A majority of the time, when guys drop the ball, they've already caught it, and when you catch a ball and you're on the base, the guy should be out," Roberts said. "I just think it brought a lot of confusion into everything with middle infielders, and certainly, when you're used to something for so long (a change) makes it a little bit tougher."

The Yankees' starting keystone combo of Roberts and Derek Jeter has 34 years of experience and thousands of double plays between them, but with that said, even for the veterans, the change made something that has come naturally for a long time more of a chore than necessary.

"(The rule change) made it very uncomfortable to try to turn a double play. You're trying to be quick when you try to turn a double play (but) I think you saw a lot of people sort of take it step by step," Jeter said. "You were constantly thinking about it. You have to make sure you catch the ball, pull it out, and don't drop it when you're throwing it."

"I don't think people realize how fast it all happens. In order to turn a double play you have to get it in and out pretty quick," Roberts added. "Every now and then you're going to drop the ball, but it doesn't mean you didn't catch it to begin with. (The change) made you think about things more than you should."

Of course, there may still be some questions and questionable calls going forward, but to Girardi, the quick resolution is a step in the right direction.

"I don't know how it's going to play out, or if it will be like the blocking of home plate rules where there's more confusion than before," Girardi said, "but I think for the players it will be easier and more like it used to be."

And, at least to the Yankees' skipper, it's also proof that MLB is willing to adjust and make changes if a rules modification is hampering the game in any way.

"I think they said with replay that it's going to be a year where they're going to go through some things and make some adjustments," Girardi said. "I give them credit for making the adjustments and continuing to communicate with everyone involved so that we get it right."

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