May 29, 2018 / 6:00 PM / in 6 months

Report: Major League Baseball says Rizzo's slide was interference

Major League Baseball disagreed with game umpires and replay monitors regarding a controversial call on Monday in which Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo took out Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Elias Diaz with a slide at the plate.

May 28, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo (44) slides into the leg of Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Elias Diaz (32) causing a throwing error which allowed two runs to score during the eighth inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The play should have been ruled as interference on Rizzo, MLB told both teams on Tuesday, multiple media outlets reported. An interference call would have taken two runs off the board in a game the Cubs ultimately won 7-0.

The Pirates viewed Rizzo’s slide, out of the basepath toward the pitcher’s mound, angled at Elias’ legs, as a dirty play. Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle deemed it “open season” on catchers after the play went unpunished.

With Chicago ahead 3-0, the bases loaded and no outs in the eighth inning, a ground ball was hit to Pirates shortstop Sean Rodriguez, who threw to Diaz to force Rizzo out at home by a comfortable margin.

As Diaz threw to first trying to complete the double play, Rizzo slid feet first into Diaz’s right leg and foot, which was just outside the top of the batter’s box. With the contact, the catcher’s throw went high into right field, allowing two runs to score as Diaz dropped to the ground in pain.

The slide was deemed legal originally, and the play was reviewed on video, leading to Hurdle’s ejection after he argued the call furiously.

Following MLB’s Tuesday ruling, Hurdle said, “The call is made. Life isn’t fair. Sport isn’t fair sometimes. You play on. What’s most important, from my perspective, is that we let the industry know this particular slide was illegal, for the sake of the catchers. That was my argument yesterday, and I’m glad we came to some conclusion and some closure.”

Diaz had a similar reaction Tuesday, saying to MLB.com through an interpreter: “To be honest with you guys, it’s too late now — the game occurred and what happened behind the plate occurred. It’s just time to move on. I am grateful that now they’re going to become more alert, and that’s going to bring me a lot more peace and a lot more catchers peace and whatever player just the peace that now MLB is going to be a lot more alert.”

Rizzo said Tuesday, “I’m going in to break up a double play. Like I said, I’m not trying to hurt anyone. You look at all the double plays I ever break up at second base, it’s pretty much the same way. You go to one side. Those guys know me over there. I’m not trying to hurt anyone. I’m not doing it with intent to hurt someone.

“The league talked ... with (manager Joe Maddon and Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein) who 100 percent made it clear it wasn’t a dirty play.”

Regarding the prospect of the Pirates retaliating by hitting him with a pitch, Rizzo said he expects to get plunked by Pittsburgh at some point, adding, “It happens. Hopefully it’s in the right spot. Players pretty much know, if you are going to hit someone on purpose, you got to go a little lower.”

Maddon said Monday that he believed Rizzo’s slide was legal, and he added Tuesday that he was not changing his opinion despite MLB’s disagreement.

The manager added about Rizzo, “Don’t permit a fabrication to sully a reputation based on a good baseball play. Anthony did nothing dirty or wrong in that play. It was an interpretation a day after that all of a sudden they are shedding light on.

“Last point: If the catcher gets rid of the ball more quickly and makes an accurate throw, you are not even asking me this question.”

—Field Level Media

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