Programming note: A’s-Mariners coverage starts today at 12:30 p.m. with Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California (Territory restrictions apply) Channel locations
SEATTLE – There was more than one comical scene in the A’s 3-1 victory over the Mariners on Saturday night , and it’s happening all across the major leagues.
Umpires are being asked to enforce a strict glove-to-hand exchange rule, where if a fielder catches a ball but drops it as he exchanges it to his throwing hand, it’s considered a non-catch.
It’s leading to confusion on the base paths as runners are retreating to a base thinking a ball is caught, only to get forced out at the next base because they’re unaware the ball is live.
“I’ve been playing baseball for over 20 years now,” A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson said. “If a ball goes in a glove, it’s always been a catch. It does make it tough on a base runner. When a guy’s diving and you see it go in his glove, your first instinct is to go back, not to watch him transfer the ball to his hand.
“I mean, it’s chaos.”
Donaldson was on first base in the third inning Saturday when Brandon Moss hit a ball to left-center that Dustin Ackley appeared to make a sliding catch on. But the ball fell to the ground as Ackley went to transfer it. Moss was ruled safe, but as Donaldson retreated to first – thinking the ball was caught -- Moss passed him between first and second and was called out for passing his teammate.
On a similar play earlier this season, Donaldson was forced at second on a deep fly ball where the ball was fumbled after it appeared a catch had been made.
“That’s hard,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “You’ve played the game for so long a certain way, and now all of a sudden you’re having to look over your shoulder every time. … Donaldson is just trying to get back. Now all of a sudden the umpire is saying no catch. You’re gonna see a lot of that this year.”
In the sixth inning, Yoenis Cespedes lined a ball at Ackley. Again, Ackley appeared to make the catch but dropped it on the exchange. Cespedes never noticed it, and he was jogging across the diamond back to the dugout as Seattle was completing an unusual 7-6-3 putout at first.
Everyone in the A’s dugout was gesturing wildly for Cespedes to run back to first.
“It was like Little League. “Back! Back!” Melvin joked.
But he didn’t take Cespedes off the hook for that goof.
“That’s one where maybe you should be aware of that one,” Melvin said. “It came out of his glove pretty quickly there.”
The comedy will continue at a ballpark near you.