Monday, April 4, 2016

Batter Prince Fielder's Illegal Action and Interference

The following is analysis of batter Prince Fielder's illegal action on Opening Day in Texas.

Batter's Illegal Action Interference in Texas (Video). With one out and a runner on first base in the bottom of the 1st inning of the Mariners-Rangers game, Rangers batter Prince Fielder took a 0-1 pitch inside as baserunner R1 Shin-Soo Choo attempted to steal second base and Mariners catcher Chris Iannetta threw to retire the runner. Replays indicate that in his attempt to avoid being hit by the inside pitch, the left-handed Fielder became off-balance and inadvertently stepped across home plate to prevent a fall. HP Umpire Jim Joyce ruled this act interfered with F2 Iannetta, resulting in Fielder being declared out and Choo returned to first base. This is the correct ruling. OBR Rule 6.03(a)(3) states that "a batter is out for illegal action when...he interferes with the catcher's fielding or throwing by stepping out of the batter's box or making any other movement that hinders the catcher's play at home base." It is irrelevant why Fielder stepped out of the batter's box; the mere fact he did step out of the batter's box and subsequently interfered with Iannetta sufficiently satisfies the criteria for Rule 6.03(a)(3) concerning batter illegal action.

SIDEBAR: One might note that after 2B Umpire James Hoye signaled baserunner Choo "safe," Mariners shortstop Ketel Marte motioned to his dugout as if to request a Manager's Challenge. Had the Mariners elected to challenge the play at second base (Q: Why?) and subsequently won the challenge with Choo being declared out, Fielder would no longer be out for an illegal action as the caught stealing play would stand and the interference disregarded (A: To eliminate the baserunner at the cost of keeping Fielder at bat). Had this sequence occurred on a third strike, both Fielder and Choo would have been out pursuant to 6.01(a)(5) (Fielder for the strikeout; Choo for the interference). Regardless, batter illegal action/interference is scored as a putout to the catcher (2 unassisted).

You can submit quirky plays to be featured as part of the UEFL Rules Review by sending a tweet to @UmpireEjections or @Gilimber on Twitter, or by posting on the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League Facebook page.


Post a Comment