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Published: Sunday, 5/29/2011

Protection rule changes not needed

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Mud Hens catcher Max St-Pierre has been in his share of home-plate collisions in his 15-year professional career.

So he has some sympathy for Giants catcher Buster Posey, whose season probably is over after a home-plate collision earlier this week.

“If he doesn’t have the ball, I don’t think it’s necessary to run over the catcher,” St-Pierre said. “And it depends on the score.

“You don’t have to ‘run’ the catcher as hard as you can. It’s not football — it’s baseball.”

But professional catchers associated with the Mud Hens don’t feel a change in the rules to protect catchers is necessary.

“I love [Giants manager] Bruce Bochy — I played for him, and every day I’m in the dugout I take things I learned from him out there,” Toledo manager Phil Nevin said. “But I read where he called the league office to get the rule changed, and I wonder: would he have called if one of his players had hit [Dodgers catcher] David Ross and knocked him out for the season? I don’t think so.”

Both Nevin, himself a former catcher in the majors, and former Hens manager Mike Rojas, also a former catcher who now is Detroit’s director of player development, thought the play was unfortunate but clean.

“Number one, it was a clean hit,” Rojas said. “Second, Posey wasn’t in a good position to take a hit — he was on his knees. The reason he got hurt was because he wasn’t in good position.”

Nevin agreed, adding, “It was a good, hard, baseball play. I didn’t see anything dirty about it, and I didn’t see anything wrong with it.

“I hate to say this because [Posey] got hurt, but you’re taught not to have your leg under you in a collision at home.”

Both former catchers also are opposed to changing any rules to protect catchers in those situations.

“A catcher wears shin guards as well as a mask and helmet,” Nevin said. “If you tell a player they have to slide into that, then you’re going to have the baserunners breaking ankles instead.

“It’s part of the game, it doesn’t happen very often. When it does, it doesn’t look good. But that shouldn’t change, because it’s a part of baseball.”

Rojas added, “It’s ridiculous — that’s part of the game. The catcher has gear on, and if you’re in a good position to take the blow, or give the blow to the runner, that’s what you’re supposed to do.

“That’s the catcher’s home, and a catcher isn’t supposed to let anything go through.”

NO GLOVE LOVE: The Mud Hens had made just one error on the eight-game road trip that came before the current homestand.

But Toledo’s defense has struggled in this homestand, committing nine errors in the first six games. Those nine errors resulted in five unearned runs.

It’s probably no coincidence the Hens went 1-5 in those six contests.

ROTATION ROULETTE: The Tigers sent Adam Wilk to Toledo Saturday to make room for Andy Oliver, and that helps fill out the Mud Hens’ rotation.

Sunday Brayan Villareal is expected to start, with L.J. Gagnier expected to relieve. Wilk will start Monday, and Thad Weber will take his scheduled start Tuesday.

Nevin said Wednesday’s starter has yet to be determined.



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