Wednesday, May 5, 2021

A Rules Interpreter for a Mound Visit in St Louis

When St. Louis starting pitcher Kwang Hyun Kim put two on with no outs in the top of the 4th inning against New York, Cardinals catcher Andrew Knizner knew he had to visit the mound. The only problem was a language barrier, so Kim's English-Korean interpreter dutifully rushed off the bench and to the mound as umpires waited for the mound visit to break up.

After a subsequent walk to load the bases, Cardinals pitching coach Mike Maddux wanted to visit the mound as well, but stopped short of the foul line between home plate and first base, visited by Crew Chief Mark Carlson who sought to deny St. Louis' attempt at a second mound visit and informed Maddux that if he continued into fair territory, it would constitute a second coach's visit and, thus, require St. Louis—without a pitcher warming up in the bullpen—to remove Kim from the game.

After further discussion with Cardinals manager Mike Shildt, Carlson convened his crew of HP Umpire Brennan Miller, 1B Umpire Randy Rosenberg, and 2B Umpire Jordan Baker, and relented, allowing both Maddux and St. Louis' interpreter to visit with Kim.

In turn, Mets manager Luis Rojas emerged from the visiting dugout and disputed the terms of St. Louis' apparent second visit in an inning, spurring Carlson and Baker to consult New York via Replay Review for a rules check.

After a delay, Carlson informed Rojas of a decision that appeared to not sit well with the Mets skipper, and play continued with Kim remaining in the game. Kim, who had walked two batters and surrendered a single to lead off the top of the 4th inning, then proceeded to retire the side while surrendering just one run.

Official Baseball Rule 5.10(l) (Visits to the Mound Requiring a Pitcher's Removal From the Game) governs this odd sequence and states that, ordinarily, "A second trip to the same pitcher in the same inning will cause this pitcher’s automatic removal from the game."

While the rulebook itself does not address foreign language interpreters, the MLB Umpire Manual does: "An interpreter may enter the field unaccompanied by a manager or coach during a pitching change at the start of an inning...Other than this scenario, interpreters are not permitted onto the playing field at any time without the presence of a coach, manager, or training [sic] with the interpreter, including when a catcher and/or infielder(s) visit the mound...A second trip to the mound to the same pitcher in the same inning by a manager or coach will cause that pitcher's removal from the game."

: The interpreter should never have been permitted to visit the mound unaccompanied by a coach, manager, or trainer; it is also clear through this language that the league does not consider an interpreter a coach and, thus, it is questionable whether the mound visit limitation for removal (OBR 5.10(l)'s "a second trip to the same pitcher in the same inning will cause this pitcher's automatic removal from the game") would apply when an interpreter makes a prohibited mound visit.

Common Sense and Fair Play: The MLBUM makes one reference to prohibited mound visits that occur due to umpire oversight: "If through umpire oversight or inability to warn the manager or coach, the manager or coach is inadvertently allowed to go to the mound a second time while the same batter is at bat (without the manager or coach being warned that he cannot do so), the pitcher then pitching will be required to pitch to the batter then at bat until the batter is retired or gets on base (or the side is retired). After the batter is retired or becomes a base runner (or the side is retired), this pitcher must then be removed from the game."

Although this scenario discusses a second visit with the same batter at the plate, it does prescribe a penalty: the pitcher must ultimately be removed. Should that have occurred here? Not according to New York, at least. This, therefore, may be one of the rulebook's many instances of a "don't do that" penalty: you did it, you got away with it, but don't do it again.

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: MLB Deems that a Visiting Translator is not a Coach (CCS)


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