Jonathan Lucroy carted off the field after bloody collision at home plate

Los Angeles Angels catcher Jonathan Lucroy had to be carted off the field Sunday after a gruesome collision at home plate against the Houston Astros.

With the game tied at 10 in the eighth inning, pinch runner Jake Marisnick tried to catch up on a sacrifice fly by George Springer but ended up plowing into Lucroy.

The 33-year-old former All-Star was knocked to his back and struggled to get up for several seconds. Athletic trainers tended to him with a towel to stop his bloody nose, but he had to be taken off the field shortly thereafter.

The team later announced that he was taken to a hospital for a CT scan and will be evaluated for a possible concussion and broken nose.

Marisnick — who was sportsmanlike enough to check on Lucroy after tagging home plate — was called out for initiating the collision.

What on Earth was Jake Marisnick thinking?

While some fans yearn for the days of Pete Rose taking out Ray Fosse at home plate, those days are well behind us. Prior to the 2014 season, Major League Baseball outlawed egregious collisions at home plate for player safety reasons.

This is undoubtedly a good thing for the game. Star catchers like Joe Mauer and Buster Posey only stay behind the plate for so long before injuries catch up to them, so there’s no reason to inflict even more harm on them. Here’s one highlight from the updated rule:

“A runner may not run out of a direct line to the plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher, or any player, covering the plate. If he does, the umpire can call him out even if the player taking the throw loses possession of the ball.”

Marisnick’s path to home plate was rather abnormal with a a juke move, and the fact that the throw beat him by so much does not help the case that the collision was not on purpose.

One possibility — as pointed out by the Los Angeles Times’ Mike DiGiovanna — was that Marisnick was trying to make an inside move to avoid Lucroy and a tag. The throw home clearly brings Lucroy closer to the field of play, although most replays don’t show exactly where he started.

“For me,” Marisnick said after the game, “I was running, and I see him taking a step up the line like he’s going to drop and go back, so I try to take an in step and slide headfirst on the inside corner. I watched the play again, and he drops right in front of me. Once I kind of made a decision, it was too late. It was a bad play, and I hope he’s OK.”

Frankly, it still looks like Marisnick wanted to score the go-ahead run, knew he was out and decided to score by any means necessary. This is why the safety rule was put into place, and hopefully plays like this will continue to be rare.

Los Angeles Angels' Jonathan Lucroy, center, is helped by medical personnel after colliding with Houston Astros' Jake Marisnick during the eighth inning of a baseball game Sunday, July 7, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Angels catcher Jonathan Lucroy had to be carted off the field after a collision at home plate. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Angels manager wants MLB to investigate the incident

Members of the Angels were not nearly as generous with their interpretation of the incident. If anyone can sympathize with Lucroy, it’s Angels manager Brad Ausmus, who spent 18 years as a major league catcher.

Ausmus played his entire career before the new anti-collision rules but still has a intimate knowledge of what slides are and aren’t dirty.

"It certainly didn’t look like a clean play,” Ausmus said. “It looked like Marisnick took a step to the left and bowled into him with his arm up. The call was right. MLB should probably take a look at it and consider some type of suspension quite frankly.”

Fortunately for the Angels, if Lucroy has to miss any time, he has a built-in buffer with four days off for the All-Star Game, and they could potentially use the 7-day concussion injured list. However, Lucroy had plans for the break that he may have to miss; he was hoping to drive to Lafayette, Louisiana, to attend the funeral of his college coach.

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