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Baseball hopes for clarification on sliding rules

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Baseball hopes for clarification on sliding rules

BOCA RATON, Fla. – If you spend much time with Buck Showalter, you know he always has strong opinions on rules.

At this week’s General Managers meetings, rule changes and clarifications were discussed. They’ll be discussed further at next week’s Owners Meetings and next month’s Winter Meetings.

The most contentious play from this postseason came when Los Angeles’ Chase Utley slid so hard into the Mets’ Ruben Tejada at second that Tejada suffered a broken leg.

Joe Torre, Chief Baseball Officer, suspended Utley for two games. Tejada hopes to be ready for spring training.

“I thought that was a little overly aggressive,” Torre said. “He slid too late and didn’t make an effort to touch the base. His target was the infielder.”

A clarification on the rule could be coming.

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Torre is proud of the game’s improvements on safety. He cites the 2014 collision rule at home plate in being a boon.

“We don’t want guys carried off the field,” Torre said.

During the postseason, there was a lot of complaining about the strike zone. Torre says little has changed.

“I know that it appears that the strike zone this year was different from last year, but it was the same. The same low strikes were called last year and this year,” Torre said.

He noted that managers are being ejected more often in the age of replay for arguing balls and strikes.

Managers have told Torre: “We have nothing else to argue about.”

Replay has brought to light the pop-up slide. In the past, a player who slid and quickly stood up was always safe. Now, players are called out on replay who have briefly left the bag.

“Before replay, we accepted the imperfections of our game,” Torre said. “Now since replay, we’re impatient with a play that might be missed.”

He notes on the pop-up slide: “A lot of times you’re negating good baserunning.”

Replay is working well. Fewer than two percent of the calls in replay are incorrect, Torre says. But, 52 percent of calls were overturned in replay, higher than it was in 2014.

Managers are now forced to use a challenge on the collision play at home, and that’s worked well, Torre said.

MLB is looking to add fan interference calls to replay so that baserunners can be properly placed.

The question of ejections for throwing at batters continues to vex the game.

“A lot of times it seems unfair. Usually the guy who’s trying to stick up for his club pays the price. I don’t really drop at on the umpire because they get one shot at it. You try to keep players in the game,” Torre said.

As for pace of play, over the season a reduction of more than six minutes was achieved. The average game in 2015 was 2 hours, 56 minutes, down more than six minutes from 2014.

According to Dan Halem, MLB’s Chief Legal Officer, negotiations on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement should begin in February or March. The agreement expires Dec. 1, 2016.

Halem said that reducing the schedule to 154 games is unlikely, and so is further expansion.

Commissioner Rob Manfred has said that playing regular season games in Mexico and perhaps Europe in the next five years is a priority. He also said that baseball continues to work on an international draft.

NOTES: Cal Ripken will receive the Tony Gwynn award for his lifetime contributions to the game at a dinner at next month’s Winter Meetings in Boca Raton, Fla.

“I am thrilled to be receiving the Tony Gwynn Award,” Ripken said.

“Tony was a friend and a terrific ambassador for the game. I will always remember entering the Hall of Fame with Tony and the great time we had in 2007. My sincere thanks to Baseball America for thinking of me on this anniversary year of 2,131 and bestowing me this honor.”

Ripken and commissioner emeritus Bud Selig are being honored by Baseball America.

-Manny Machado lost out to Colorado’s Nolan Arenado for the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year at third base on Wednesday night.

-Chris Davis is a favorite to win the Silver Slugger award at first base on Thursday night.

MORE ORIOLES: Looking for deals, free agents

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Trumbo homers twice, drives in 5 as Orioles beat Rangers 9-6

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Trumbo homers twice, drives in 5 as Orioles beat Rangers 9-6

 Mark Trumbo could have looked around the diamond at his Orioles teammates and wondered, "Who are these guys?"

With veterans Adam Jones and Chris Davis out of the starting lineup, Trumbo alone represented experience on a young, struggling team.

The slugger homered twice and drove in five runs, and Baltimore beat the Texas Rangers 9-6 in a back-and-forth game Sunday to avoid a four-game sweep.

"There's a few of us guys that have been around a little longer than most," Trumbo said. "The production comes and goes, but the mindset is the big thing, and I think these guys are doing a good job."

Entering the series, Trumbo hadn't gone deep since July 9. He completed the four games 7 for 16 with three homers and nine RBIs as Baltimore totaled 21 runs.

Austin Wynns and Jonathan Villar also homered for the Orioles.

Trumbo singled home a run in the first inning. His two-run homer in the third put Baltimore ahead to stay at 6-5 against starter Drew Hutchison (1-2), who was making his Rangers debut.

"Just pitch execution, poor command, too many balls up in the zone," Hutchison said. "When you do things like that, those are the results that you're going to have."

Both of Trumbo's homers came with two strikes.

"I've been getting to two strikes a lot lately and still getting some hits," he said. "I hit a changeup (from Hutchison), and I put some good wood on it."

The teams had scored in every half-inning before that, with the lead changing hands in four of those.

Trumbo left the game after his two-run homer against Matt Moore in the seventh.

"(Trumbo) almost didn't play today," Orioles manager Buck Showalter. "His knee's been a little sore. I noticed running around the bases on the second home run."

Another difference was Baltimore's beleaguered bullpen, which allowed only one run and one hit in 7 1/3 innings.

Tanner Scott (2-2), the second of six Orioles pitchers, shut out Texas for 2 1/3 innings, which tied his longest major league outing. He relieved starter Yefry Ramirez with the bases loaded and two outs in the second and struck out Ronald Guzman.

Mychal Givens retired the final four batters for his second save.

Jace Peterson led off the game with a single and scored on Trumbo's single for a short-lived 1-0 lead.

Ramirez retired the first two Rangers hitters but gave up a triple to Elvis Andrus. After two walks loaded the bases, Robinson Chirinos singled home two runs.

The Orioles regained the lead at 4-2 in the second on a three-run homer by Wynns, the No. 9 batter.

The Rangers scored three runs in the bottom half on Shin-Soo Choo's sacrifice fly, Andrus' groundout and a broken-bat single by Joey Gallo for a 5-4 advantage.

Gallo and Rougned Odor homered in each of the first three games of the series, but their streaks were stopped on Sunday.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Orioles: Davis didn't play for a second straight game. Showalter said, "He's banged up a little bit. We're going to give him the benefit of another day and the off day Monday." ... Showalter said it's likely that OF Craig Gentry, who has missed six weeks because of a fractured rib, will begin a rehab assignment Tuesday at Double-A Bowie. ... INF Steve Wilkerson (strained left oblique), who hasn't played since July 1, could go on a rehab assignment Thursday.

UP AND DOWN AGAIN

To make room for Hutchison on the roster, the Rangers optioned RHP Austin Bibens-Dirkx to Triple-A Round Rock for the third time this season.

JUST KEEP HITTING

Andrus extended his hitting streak to 16 games, equaling a career best. It's also the longest current run in the majors.

UP NEXT

Orioles: Begin a three-game series at Tampa Bay on Tuesday. Alex Cobb (3-14, 5.83 ERA) will start against Rays newcomer Tyler Glasnow (1-2, 4.27).

Rangers: LHP Martin Perez (2-4, 6.50) pitches Monday as Texas hosts Seattle and LHP Wade LeBlanc (6-2, 3.95) to begin a three-game series.

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Adam Jones helps Little League team with $8.5K donation

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Adam Jones helps Little League team with $8.5K donation

Adam Jones continues to be one of baseball's Good Dudes. 

Jones, who's been recognized before for his philanthropic efforts around Baltimore, made headlines recently when he donated $8.5 thousand dollars to the Mamie Johnson Little League team. 

Mamie Johnson are headed to the Mid-Atlantic Finals of the Little League World Series qualifying tournament but needed $10k in travel assistance to get there. That's where Jones, who orginally learned of the team on Twitter, stepped in: 

When asked about his donation, Jones said, "I want to see the next generation get an opportunity to succeed. Me being a black man trying to integrate more African-Americans into baseball, this was a no-brainer.''

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