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Pirates get explanation on play at plate

Pirates get explanation on play at plate

PITTSBURGH -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle will avoid the usual disciplinary action for his ejection from Wednesday's game after Major League Baseball conceded that the call that had led to his ouster was in error.

Hurdle had been run after leaving the dugout to seek details about why, upon replay review, catcher Russell Martin had been ruled to have illegally obstructed home plate, a violation of experimental Rule 7.13.

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The questioned sequence had come with the bases loaded and one out, making it a force play. Martin had taken a throw from Pittsburgh reliever Stolmy Pimentel, who had fielded a grounder with Devin Mesoraco running from third base.

Umpiring crew chief Jerry Layne was informed from the New York Replay Review Command Center of Martin's violation. Hurdle and Martin both maintained the catcher had carried out the play the only possible way.

In a statement, MLB's executive vice president of baseball operations, Joe Torre, agreed.

"[Wednesday] night's play at home plate was one of the most difficult calls that our umpires have faced this season, given that the positioning of the catcher at home plate was necessary to record the force out," Torre said. "After evaluating the play and the details of the review, we recognize that this play was not the type that should have resulted in a violation of Rule 7.13.

"The goal of Rule 7.13 is to prevent egregious home plate collisions, and despite how challenging these situations can be, we have made important progress in accomplishing that goal."

"It's nice for them to reaffirm what I believed was a missed call," Martin said following the Pirates' 4-3, 12-inning win over the Reds on Thursday. "It's the first year of replays, and there will be times guys make mistakes, and hopefully they just won't repeat those mistakes. I think everybody in baseball understood there's nothing else you can do in that situation. It's pretty much impossible to be blocking the plate when it's a force play."

Hurdle, who had reached Torre by phone Wednesday night following his ejection, anticipated the admission that a mistake had been made.

"Based on our conversation ... we were confident there would be some statement coming out, bring more clarity to situation," Hurdle said.

The Pirates lost that Wednesday game, 11-4, so the controversial play had no significant bearing on the outcome.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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