PORT CHARLOTTE — The Rays aren't the only players to have questions about the changes MLB made Thursday regarding plays at second base.
In one way, the new rules should make the game safer, forcing runners to slide directly to and remain on the base, and outlawing roll blocks where the runner makes contact with the infielder before the ground with the penalty for violation being a double play.
But in another way, the changes could make it riskier, as umpires will now enforce the so-called "neighborhood play," and be able to use replay to do so, which will require infielders to actually tag second where in the past they got the out call just for being close.
"It's going to be interesting to see what happens," Rays second baseman Logan Forsythe said. "I like the slide rule. I'm not 100 percent on the neighborhood play just yet because there's going to be certain plays where we are going to be open and vulnerable and there's nothing we are going to be able to do."
Players union chief Tony Clark, after visiting with the Rays on the second day of his tour of all camps, said player safety was the driving force, and if the rule changes aren't producing the desired effect they could be tweaked during the season.
"I think everyone is very sensitive that there's an adjustment that is happening here," Clark said. "And we're going to have to be very diligent in appreciating what that adjustment looks like once the lights come on, such that if players are actually in harm's way more than they were beforehand, that we sit back down and make a determination as to what makes the most sense, against the premise that we started with, which is player safety."
Among other topics, Clark also said players are "cautiously optimistic" a new labor agreement can be negotiated without a work stoppage and that given an unusual number of players who were left on the free agent market "the union is "interested in appreciating how all the moving pieces fit in this offseason."
ATHLETICS: New utility player Chris Coghlan, newly acquired from the Cubs, unpacked and had his first full day with Oakland. The former East Lake High standout said he was surprised by the trade, but added that he is ready to embrace his expected role of playing several positions.
CARDINALS: Catcher Yadier Molina, recovering from surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb, took part in his first catching drills of the spring and said he hopes to play on opening day.
Cubs: Outfielder Shane Victorino, 35, signed a minor-league contract and will compete for one of the final roster spots. Last season he hit .230 in 71 games for the Red Sox and Angels.
Indians: Outfielder Abraham Almonte was suspended 80 games by Major League Baseball after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance, Boldenone, an anabolic steroid generally used by veterinarians on horses. Almonte, 26, can play in spring training.
RANGERS: Right-hander Yu Darvish, continuing a comeback from Tommy John surgery, threw 25 pitches off the half-size mound.
Information from Times wires was used in this report.