DJ LeMahieu Not a Fan of New MLB Slide Rule

Mar 26, 2016; Salt River Pima-Maricopa, AZ, USA; Colorado Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu (9) turns the double play while avoiding Texas Rangers left fielder Ryan Rua (16) in the fourth nning during a spring training game at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 26, 2016; Salt River Pima-Maricopa, AZ, USA; Colorado Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu (9) turns the double play while avoiding Texas Rangers left fielder Ryan Rua (16) in the fourth nning during a spring training game at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports /
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In the offseason, Major League Baseball instituted a new slide rule designed to help keep middle infielders healthy. Count Colorado Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu as a player who thinks the new rule isn’t a good idea.

Commonly known as “the Chase Utley rule” after the Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman slid hard into New York’s Ruben Tejada and injured the former Mets infielder during the National League Division Series last season as he broke up a potential double play, the new rule ensures runners must make an attempt at a slide.

Under the new Rule 6.01(j), a runner has to make a “bona fide slide,” which is defined as making contact with the ground before reaching the base, being able to and attempting to reach the base with a hand or foot, being able to and attempting to remain on the base at the completion of the slide (except at home plate) and not changing his path for the purpose of initiating contact with a fielder.

In previous seasons, runners could come into second hard as long as they were close enough to touch the bag. That all changed following the Utley incident last season.

Ironically, the Dodgers were in town on Sunday when LeMahieu encountered a hard slide at second from LA’s Enrique Hernandez. The Dodgers pinch hitter powerfully slid into the base, forcefully hitting LeMahieu’s leg. Because of the contact, LeMahieu was unable to try to throw Trayce Thompson out at first to complete a double play. The play would loom large as a double play would have ended the game and Colorado would have won 10-8. Instead, the Dodgers rallied for a 12-10 decision.

Colorado manager Walt Weiss came out on the field to challenge the slide. However, umpires told the Rockies skipper that the play was not reviewable since LeMahieu didn’t make an attempt to throw to first base.

“It was a good slide. I think that if he wouldn’t have made contact with me, I think he would’ve slid pretty far past the base but they said they couldn’t review it because I didn’t make an attempt to throw it,” LeMahieu said.

While LeMahieu had no problems with the slide, he does have a problem with the part of the new rule that he feels endangers himself and other infielders. Simply put, it’s still perfectly fine for the runner to make contact with the infielder, even if the infielder has to stay on the bag to make the out. This year, with the new rule in play, the infielder can’t make a “neighborhood play” and be in the vicinity of the base to make the out. He must actually touch the bag for the out to be called.

“The whole rule is stupid,” he said. “I don’t like the rule. I think it was fine how it was last year. I think it makes it more dangerous this year because you have to stay on the base.”

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DJ LeMahieu also disagrees with the play not being able to be reviewed.

“If I just would’ve looked like I was trying to throw it, they could’ve reviewed it. The whole thing is stupid,” LeMahieu said. “It was a fine slide and fine play. He got me good. It wasn’t dirty. It was just a hard slide. The fact that it’s being questioned … I don’t agree with it.”