Friday, April 13, 2012

Tigers Cabrera Catches White Sox Batter's Box Mistake

By Sean Gagnier

While it may not have been on purpose, it was, after all, opening day for the U.S. Cellular Field grounds crew, Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera proved that he has more baseball smarts than many gave him credit for. When he stepped into the batters box in the first inning of the Tigers game with the White Sox on Friday he, wasn't actually, in the box.

Cabrera's back foot was more than six inches out of the back of the batters box. While he does tend to hang out at the extreme back of the box, and rub out the back line, Cabrera knows where he can and can't stand. And he was right. After digging in, he notified the umpire that he believed the box was not the correct size.

The batters box had been shifted up about six inches, a brilliant move if you don't get caught. The move would force sluggers such as Cabrera that feed on fastballs to sit closer to the middle of the plate. That shift would give them less time to decide on a pitch and pull the trigger.

Other batters, such as Chicago's Alexi Ramirez are thrown a steady diet of breaking pitches and like to dig in at the front of the box. A shift of the box up would allow them to get their bat on the ball before the pitch began to break when it reaches the plate.

Major League Baseball rules state that the "batters box shall extend for three feet forward of home plate and three feet behind home plate." With three feet on each side of the plate batters are free to move forward and back to find the right feel for their batting style.

Cabrera is a veteran and he knows when something is wrong, and when his back foot was beyond the chalk in the first inning, he let someone know about it. After convincing home plate umpire Adrian Johnson of the mistake the U.S. Cellular Field grounds crew were called out to rechalk the batters box with the umpires observing the process.

White Sox starter Jake Peavy had struck out the Tigers one and two hitters in Austin Jackson and Brennan Boesch prior to Cabrera alerting the umpires to the mistake. One may think that this mistake could have caused Jackson and Boesch to be late on their swings, which they were, and could have helped Peavy record those first two outs.

While that looks to be the case, it more than likely was a simple mistake by a grounds crew chalking the field for the first time this season and not any conspiracy. But next time you see a batter dig into the box, take more time to check out his feet and make sure the chalk is where it's supposed to be.

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