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MLB: Umpires, replay officials got call wrong on Anthony Rizzo’s slide into Pirates’ Elias Diaz

May 30, 2018 GMT

Major League Baseball informed the Pirates and Cubs that Anthony Rizzo should have been called out for his slide into the Pirates catcher Elias Diaz on Monday, according to the league’s official website and confirmed by personnel from both teams.

“What’s most important from my perspective is we let the industry know this particular slide was illegal, for the sake of the catchers,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Tuesday, a day after he was ejected for arguing the replay ruling. “That was my argument yesterday, and I’m glad we came to some conclusion and some closure.”

Rizzo’s slide during the eighth inning of Monday’s 7-0 Cubs win appeared to happen inside the third-base line as Diaz was forcing him out at home. The slide altered Diaz’s relay to first base, and it went into right field, leading to the Cubs’ fourth and fifth runs. Diaz writhed in pain after the play, but he stayed in the game and said Tuesday he “felt good, thank god.”

Through interpreter Mike Gonzalez, Diaz said the mea culpa from MLB didn’t make him feel any better or worse about the situation.

“To be honest with you guys, it’s too late now,” he said. “The game occurred, and what happened behind the plate occurred. It’s just time to move on. I am grateful that now they’re going to become more alert, and that’s going to bring me a lot more peace and a lot more catchers peace ... now MLB is going to be a lot more alert.”

Per an unnamed source cited by MLB.com, MLB reviewed the play and determined Rizzo’s slide was a violation of the 2-year-old slide rule.

According to MLB Rule 6.01(j), a bona fide slide “occurs when the runner (1) begins his slide (i.e., makes contact with the ground) before reaching the base; (2) is able and attempts to reach the base with his hand or foot; (3) is able and attempts to remain on the base (except home plate) after completion of the slide; and (4) slides within reach of the base without changing his pathway for the purpose of initiating contact with a fielder.”

Diaz stepped forward and was in the grass in front of home plate when Rizzo made contact with him. The Cubs’ position was that, because Rizzo touched home plate, his actions were within the rules.

Hurdle said he was glad MLB verified his position.

“I just wanted to figure out how I was so off in my evaluation and watching the video,” Hurdle said. “If I’m off, walk me through it, coach me up, teach me.

“The rule, there’s a four-point deal to that rule, 601, on slides and force plays. I think the fourth part was without changing his pathway to initiate contact with the fielder. I think with this situation as well, you kind of have a white line that separates it. For 80 feet he’s on one side of the line and for 10 feet he’s on the other side of the line, and where’s the catcher? To me, that’s what it looked like and then the call wasn’t made, so the only thing I’m going to do then is voice my disapproval ...

“For the industry, I’m glad the industry knows now that particular slide, we’ll be watching, that one’s not going to work.”

Rizzo on Tuesday said multiple Pirates players told him they believed it was “a clean, hard slide,” and he reiterated he had no intent to injure Diaz.

“I don’t think anyone has clarity on the rule,” Rizzo said. “It’s been in question for years, so even when you go into second base — I’m strictly talking about breaking up a double play — I’m not colliding with a catcher at all.”

Pirates No. 1 catcher Francisco Cervelli likewise said “the rule has never been clear,” and multiple teammates agreed.

“I just think an explanation of the play, or what’s right and what’s wrong, is needed,” veteran David Freese said.

Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at cadamski@tribweb.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.