July 16, 2022

Rafael Devers: A Busy Night

Rafael Devers involved in possible interference and obstruction on the same night

Rafael Devers: A Busy Night

The Yankees and Red Sox played at Fenway on July 8th when Boston’s Rafael Devers was involved two plays worthy of attention.

In the bottom of the second, Devers was batting with runners on first and third and two outs. Facing Nestor Cortes, he hit a towering fly several feet up the first base line. Devers remained in the batter’s box while tracking the ball and collided with Yankees’ catcher Jose Trevino. Plate umpire Chad Fairchild pointed but kept the play alive.

Ruleball Comments

  1. Initially, contact occurred between Devers and catcher Jose Trevino. But apparently Fairchild pointed to Cortes or first baseman DJ LeMahieu indicating one of them, not Trevino, was entitled to making the play and would be protected per rule 6.01 (a) (10).
  2. When it’s possible that multiple players can make a play, the umpire can only protect one if a runner comes in contact with one or more defensive players. In this situation it appears that Fairchild protected either Cortes or LeMahieu, not Trevino.
  3. Once the batter puts the ball in play, he no longer has the right to the batter’s box. He is now a batter-runner and must avoid the catcher or any other player who is attempting to make a play. If Trevino was the protected fielder, Fairchild would have raised both arms and called “Time” while calling Devers out.
  4. It is common for the batter-runner to track his fly ball which often leads to interference. The batter-runner needs to find a way to vacate the box without impeding the catcher or any other fielder from making a play.
  5. If interference is called, the ball is dead, and runners cannot advance.

Type 2 Obstruction

In the top of the fourth, the Yankees had Josh Donaldson on second and Aaron Hicks on first when they executed a double steal. The throw to third got by Devers at third base. As Donaldson attempted to get up, third base umpire Erich Bacchus ruled Type 2 obstruction by pointing at Devers, judging Devers impeded Donaldson’s progress. The ball remained live, and Donaldson raced home and scored.

Ruleball Comments

  1. When there is an errant throw to a base and the fielder and runner become entangled, the responsibility lies with the fielder not to impede the progress of the runner. Devers remained motionless and impeded Donaldson’s progress.  
  2. At the point of the obstruction, there was no play being directly made on the runner. Therefore, it’s a Type 2 obstruction. The ball remains live. If the play at the next base is close, chances are the umpire will protect the runner. If the runner is an easy out, the play will stand despite the obstruction.
  3. The obstructed runner may not be guaranteed any base. This is why he must hustle hard to the next base.
  4. Notice Trevino, the batter, ducked when the throw went to third. This is a normal reaction, but by rule, not necessary because when a batter does this, he makes the play easier for the catcher by giving him a throwing lane.
  5. In both of the above plays involving Devers, the umpires pointed indicating the infraction, or possible infraction. Unfortunately, the broadcasters did not pick it up but did make a follow-up statement.
  6. When an umpire points, there is a very good possibility that he is protecting an infielder in a potential interference situation or is indicating a Type 2 obstruction on a fielder. When an umpire points, the ball remains in play. POINTING is a KEY everyone should watch for.
  7. The umpire will raise both arms and call “Time” when he is calling a runner out for interference or is ruling a Type 1 obstruction when a play is being directly made on the runner.


Rich Marazzi

Rules consultant/analyst:  D’backs, Nationals, Orioles, Padres, Phillies, Pirates, Rays, Red Sox, Rangers, Royals, Tigers, Twins, Yankees, Bally Sports, ESPN, YES, and NBC Sports Chicago.  

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