MLB near agreement on new home-plate collision rule

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Joe Torre, a member of MLB’s Playing Rules Committee, admitted last week that he and his colleagues were having trouble putting into words the new rule that will ban home-plate collisions. “It’s not finished being written because it’s not easy,” he said.

But it sounds like some progress is being made.

A source told FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal on Wednesday evening that the new rule should be instituted within the next 24 to 48 hours, presumably with the cooperation of the Players’ Association.

For an idea of how the ban on collisions might change the aesthetic of home plate plays read the following excerpt from Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, who discussed the matter recently with Cardinals manager Mike Matheny:

[Matheny] described for the media how catchers used to set up at the point nearest third base and, once they had the throw, would then move to block the plate. Now, as a third baseman often does, the catchers will set up on the first-base side of the plate and approach it as a tag play where the glove must be able to reach all points of the plate.

Home-plate collisions brought nothing positive to professional baseball. They will not be missed.

Stephen Strasburg is the Nationals’ Opening Day starter

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Nationals’ right-hander Stephen Strasburg will take the mound for the club on Opening Day, manager Dusty Baker said on Sunday. The news is hardly surprising given Max Scherzer’s questionable status this spring, though it had yet to be confirmed by the club.

Strasburg is approaching his eighth run with the club in 2017. He went 15-4 in 2016, finishing the year with a 3.60 ERA, 2.7 BB/9 and 11.2 SO/9 in 147 2/3 innings. This will mark his fourth Opening Day assignment with the Nationals.

Scherzer, the Nationals’ Opening Day starter in both 2015 and 2016, is scheduled to make his season debut sometime during the first week of the season. The right-hander is expected to take things more slowly this spring as he finishes rehabbing a stress fracture in his finger.

The Nationals will open their season against the Marlins on April 3.

Steven Matz to skip next spring training start with elbow issues

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Mets’ left-hander Steven Matz will miss his Grapefruit League appearance on Monday after experiencing soreness in his left elbow, according to a report by Mike Puma of the New York Post. Matz reportedly first felt discomfort in his elbow on Wednesday after pitching four innings against the Marlins, but a medical evaluation revealed no structural damage.

Still, it’s unsettling news for the 25-year-old, who is coming off of an injury-riddled 2016 season. Matz pitched to a 3.40 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 8.8 SO/9 during his sophomore campaign with the Mets, but his success was hampered by a bevy of shoulder and elbow issues that culminated in season-ending surgery to remove bone spurs from his left elbow.

Comments from Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson indicated that while the club doesn’t believe anything is significantly wrong with Matz’s elbow this time around, the setback could have an impact on his chances of cracking the Opening Day roster. Until he’s cleared to return to the mound, the club is expected to take a longer look at rotation candidates Robert Gsellman, Zack Wheeler and Seth Lugo.