MLB announces change to transfer rule

Orioles manager Buck Showalter told reporters in Boston over the weekend that Major League Baseball would make a significant adjustment to the controversial transfer rule within the next few weeks. That was the word on the street.

It happened today.

MLB announced that the Playing Rules Committee has provided its official view of how umpires should apply the rules when a fielder loses possession of a ball when attempting to transfer it to his throwing hand. The change will be implemented beginning tonight.

It’s a tad late for Orioles infielder Ryan Flaherty, who was charged with an error in Boston after losing his grip on the ball while attempting to turn a double play, but it’s going to be celebrated inside the clubhouse and the manager’s office.

Here’s a cut-and-paste job on the press release:

The Committee’s interpretation of the rule has been discussed and agreed upon by MLB, the MLB Players Association and the World Umpires Association. Beginning with games played tonight, Umpires will enforce the rule according to the standards below.

The Committee has determined that a legal catch has occurred pursuant to OBR 2.00 (Definition of Terms, “Catch”), or a valid force out or tag has occurred pursuant to OBR 2.00 (Definition of Terms, “Tag”), if the fielder had complete control over the ball in his glove, but drops the ball after intentionally opening his glove to make the transfer to his throwing hand. There is no requirement that the fielder successfully remove the ball from his glove in order for it be ruled a catch. If the fielder drops the ball while attempting to remove it to make a throw, the Umpires should rule that the ball had been caught, provided that the fielder had secured it in his glove before attempting the transfer. The Umpires will continue to use their judgment as to whether the fielder had complete control over the ball before the transfer.

The Official Playing Rules Committee consists of the General Manager of the New York Mets, Sandy Alderson, who serves as Chair of the Committee; Sam Bernabe, the Chairman of the Pacific Coast League; Hall of Famer Rod Carew, a 19-year Major League veteran; Umpire Brian Gorman, a Crew Chief with over 22 years of experience at the Major League level; John McHale, Jr., MLB’s Executive Vice President of Administration and Chief Information Officer; Terry Ryan, the Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Minnesota Twins; John Schuerholz, the President of the Atlanta Braves; Bill Stoneman, former Vice President and General Manager of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim; and Joe Torre, MLB’s Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations.

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