In the first rule change of the replay era, Major League Baseball will adopt a less strict interpretation of the controversial "transfer rule" starting tonight, league sources tell Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. From the report:
Starting Friday night, umpires will rule on catches the way they did in the past, using more of a common-sense approach rather than following the letter of the law, according to major-league sources. A catch, forceout or tag will be considered legal if a fielder has control of the ball in his glove, but drops the ball after opening his glove to transfer the ball to his throwing hand, sources said. No longer will the fielder be required to successfully get the ball into his throwing hand.
The transfer rule in place this season has cost the Red Sox most recently as last night. In the second inning of the game vs. the Yankees, Dustin Pedroia tagged second base before losing the ball as Brett Gardner slid in. Gardner was called safe on account of the new rule and Pedroia was given an error.
On April 13, Sox manager John Farrell was ejected during a 3-2 loss to the Yankees after another transfer rule call went against the Red Sox. Initially, first base umpire called the Yankees' Francisco Cervelli out at first. Joe Girardi challenged the call, which was eventually reversed when umpires ruled Cervelli had beat the throw because the ball had not yet landed in the back of Mike Napoli's glove. Farrell came out to argue and was ejected.
"We felt that it was clear that the replay was inconclusive," Farrell said then. "The frustrating part is when this was rolled out and explained to us, particularly on the throw received by the first baseman, we were instructed that when the ball enters the glove, not that it has to hit the back of the glove, is where the out is deemed complete.
"It's hard to have any faith in the system."
MLB rules state that a player must have "secure possession" of the ball, but this season it was added that it must also be a clean transfer. Officials from the players' union had met with MLB officials to discuss their displeasure with the rule last week.