Monday, January 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

MLB reverses course on transfer rule

CHICAGO — The way Rays 2B Ben Zobrist saw it, he was just one of many "innocent victims" of a new interpretation of an old rule regarding when an out is made as a fielder transfers the ball from his glove to his throwing hand.

And Friday, when MLB essentially reversed course, with the out now to be called before the transfer is tried, Zobrist was one of many applauding.

"Anybody who plays up the middle knows how quick you have to make that transfer to try and make a double play," Zobrist said.

"And you don't want to have to think about having to try to pull it out of the glove perfectly clean every time or you're not even going to get the first out."

On April 8 at Kansas City, Alcides Escobar was called safe — and Zobrist charged with an error — when Zobrist dropped the ball trying to throw to first. Zobrist sent a text message, then spoke with players union officials, who met with MLB.

The rule also applies to outfielders.

Rays manager Joe Maddon welcomed the move, saying it will allow players to think less.

"I think it's more realistic regarding the way this game has been played for many years," he said. "I commend them for having the strength and courage to make a change."

Zobrist said he wanted no credit for the change: "Hopefully they'll get it right now and we won't have any more of those incidents."

Pine tar: MLB said it will study if the rule preventing pitchers from using pine tar should be changed after the season. The Yankees' Michael Pineda was banned 10 games Thursday, a day after umpires found pine tar on his neck against the Red Sox. Pineda said he was trying to get a better grip on balls on a cool night.

Angels: Joe Smith was named closer. He replaces Ernesto Frieri, who has blown two of his four saves, has a 9.35 ERA and has allowed five homers over 10 appearances.

Astros: RH reliever Matt Albers went on the DL with tendinitis in his right shoulder.

Orioles: 1B Chris Davis left in the fifth with a strained left oblique. His status is unknown.

Padres: 3B Chase Headley went on the DL with a strained right calf. LF Seth Smith, who left Thursday's game with a sore groin, said he's day to day. And RHP Mike Quacken­bush, a standout at USF and Tampa's Jesuit High, was called up. He had four saves and a 1.80 ERA in nine appearances at Triple A.

Pirates: Closer Jason Grilli is expected to go on the DL with a strained left oblique today. Mark Melancon would assume his role.

Rangers: 3B Adrian Beltre, out since April 9 with a strained left quad, was activated.

Reds: An unidentified woman sued RHP Alfredo Simon for $15 million, alleging he sexually assaulted her in a Washington hotel a year ago. The team declined to comment. Also, 3B Todd Frazier (left leg tightness) and C Devin Mesoraco (strained left hamstring) left Friday's game against the Braves.

Red Sox: 3B Will Middlebrooks, out since April 6 with a strained right calf, was activated.

McGrady to pitch: Tracy McGrady, who played 16 seasons in the NBA, made the independent Sugar Land Skeeters as a pitcher. He did not appear in Thursday's opener or Friday's game.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

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