Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle was one of many players and coaches in Pirates uniforms that were upset with the way Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo slid into home plate taking the legs out from under Pirates catcher Elias Diaz.
Hurdle said it was now open season on catchers. The play took place during the eighth inning of Chicago’s 7-0 victory over the Pirates on Monday.
Rizzo was an easy force out at home after Pirates shortstop Sean Rodriguez fielded a grounder and threw home, but when Diaz pivoted to complete a double play by throwing to first base, Rizzo slid into the legs of the Pirates catcher prior to crossing the plate. Because of that, the throw by Diaz was high and ended up in right field allowing the Cubs to score two runs on the play.
After Hurdle was given an ejection by the home plate umpire for arguing about Rizzo’s actions, he told reporters in the clubhouse that the league has a rule in place to protect catchers at home plate and everyone will see the play involving Rizzo and say it is a play that can be made on the catcher when he is most vulnerable, completely exposed and in front of home plate with no defense at all.
Rizzo did not deny he was looking for contact so he could break up Pittsburgh’s double play attempt, but the call by umpires on the field and a review that followed claimed the slide to be legal.
Rizzo said that as a player you need to go in and try to break the double play up and he was not attempting to hurt Diaz. Rizzo added that plays such as that can be scary, but you must play hard.
Diaz sided with his manager. The Pirates catcher said that in his opinion he did not think Rizzo made a good slide. He understands there is what is considered old school baseball but that is the past not the present and rules are in place to protect the catchers.
Diaz was able to remain in the game and he and Rizzo spoke briefly the next time Rizzo batted. Hurdle said that he was surprised that the call did not get overturned.
Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon was nearly tossed out for arguing that the play was not reviewable and said that Rizzo’s made a perfect play.