Interference rule chafes Ausmus, Castellanos

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Nick Castellanos has been called out twice due to baserunner interference. Brad Ausmus thinks the rule unfairly penalizes right-handed hitters.

Detroit — Twice in the span of three games, Nick Castellanos has been called out for interfering with a throw to first.

It happened in San Diego on Saturday. The throw from the catcher hit him in the back, and even though he was already on the base when it hit him, he was called out. That, it was universally agreed, was the wrong call.

Home plate umpire Dan Bellino got it right on Tuesday when Castellanos was clearly inside the base path when he was drilled by the throw from pitcher Matt Strahm. Nobody disputed the call, but manager Brad Ausmus has an issue with the rule itself.

“This is why the rule is so unfair for right-handed hitters,” he said. “If you draw a straight line from the right-handed batter’s box to first base, you are inside the line. You are asking right-handed hitters to run farther than they have to.

“Your instinct is to get there as quickly as possible, and that would be to run in a straight line. It’s really a bad rule and the umpires will tell you it’s a bad rule.”

Castellanos wasn’t arguing the point.

“He’s an Ivy League guy, so he’s probably right,” he said with a grin. “I’ve run the bases like that my entire life. And I’ve been called out on a play like that — the one in San Diego was the first time I had it called. And I disagreed with the call.

“But this last call (Tuesday), was I inside the line? Sure. Did I affect the throw? No. It’s like an NFL guy getting called for pass interference when the throw was uncatchable.”

First base coach Omar Vizquel, who was a switch-hitter in his playing days, isn’t giving Castellanos a pass on this one.

V-Mart dropped to sixth hole; 'He's good (with it)'

“Your first movement might be on the inside of the baseline, but you have to realize than anything around home plate, or around the pitcher, any ball hit there you have to go on the outside of the line,” Vizquel said. “As soon as you make contact with that ball (on the throw), they are going to call you out.

“I’ve seen it 100 times. Even if you are right on the line, when the catcher or the pitcher throw the ball and it hits you, you are going to be called out.”

Vizquel said Castellanos has to force himself to run on the outside of the baseline on those balls, or he’s going to keep losing bases to interference calls.

Hicks down

The Tigers sent catcher-first baseman John Hicks back to Toledo Wednesday to clear a roster spot for Victor Martinez.

“The big thing is, we don’t want Hicks sitting around; we want him getting at-bats,” Ausmus said. “Because if there is a need later on, and there is a good chance there will be a need at some point, for him to come back up, we want him to get regular at-bats so he can be ready.

“It benefits him and in the long run, it benefits us.”

Hicks was hitting .299 and slugging .522, with three home runs and 12 RBIs.

Around the horn

Left-hander Matthew Boyd will be summoned on Saturday to pitch one of the two games against the Indians on Saturday. Ausmus wasn’t certain which end of the doubleheader he’d start. Jordan Zimmermann will start the other. At Toledo, Boyd was 3-0 with a 2.86 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, with 32 strikeouts in 28⅓ innings.

... Outfielder Jim Adduci started in left field in the second game of his rehab stint in Toledo. Ausmus said he expects Adduci to get between 30 and 40 at-bats, and play some in center field, as well. "He was taking fly balls in center field here for about a week," Ausmus said. "That (Adduci possibly playing some in center) has been put on the table."

Twitter: @cmccosky