It’s pretty clear-cut: Houston’s Jake Marisnick was nowhere near the plate, wasn’t even aiming toward the plate, when he obliterated Angels catcher Jonathan Lucroy. Lucroy was hospitalized and Marisnick was correctly called out for a violation of MLB’s home-plate collision rule, and the Angels think a suspension should be next.
Marisnick represented the go-ahead run when he bowled over Lucroy while trying to tag up in the eighth inning of Sunday’s eventual 11-10 Houston win. What happened was one of the more frightening collisions in recent years—exactly what baseball was trying to legislate out when it added the rule to protect catchers in 2014.
A bleeding Lucroy was helped off on a cart, and the Angels said he was taken to a hospital for a CT scan and evaluation for a possible concussion and broken nose.
“It certainly didn’t look like a clean play,” said Angels manager Brad Ausmus, a former catcher. “I don’t know what actually happened. It looked like Marisnick took a step to the left and bowled into him with his arm up. The call was right. Major League Baseball should probably take a look at it and consider some type of suspension, quite frankly.”
Marisnick did take a step to his left, toward the infield and away from the baseline, just before barreling into Lucroy. That makes this an obvious violation of the home-plate collision rule, which states, “[a] runner attempting to score may not deviate from his direct pathway to the plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher.” Marisnick was called out on the field, and review upheld the decision.
Marisnick said he didn’t intend to run over Lucroy, that he was actually trying to avoid the catcher.
“That was a bad play,” Marisnick said. “For me, I was running and I see him take a step kind of up the line like he’s going to drop and go back so I tried to take an in-step and slide head first on the inside corner. And I watched the play again and it looks like he just drops right in front of me and once I kind of made a decision it was too late. And it was a bad play, and I hope he’s OK.”
Marisnick is regretful, and his explanation sounds somewhat plausible—it was a decision made in a split second and at full speed; it just happened to be the wrong decision—but he still went out of his way to hit Lucroy, and came in shoulder-first. I’m not sure intent matters to Lucroy right now, nor how much it should matter to MLB’s disciplinarians.