Batters and runners must understand that they must avoid the fielder when he is making a play. The protection given to the fielder applies to fly balls and ground balls. Since this rule applies to runners and batters, batters need to understand how the catcher is protected while trying to make a play near home plate.
Pop-Ups Around Home Plate
When a batter hits a pop-up around home plate and stays in the vicinity of the batter’s box, he is in danger of being called out for interference. If the batter impedes the catcher while the catcher is tracking the ball, whether intentional or not, he should be called out for interference.
KNOW THIS: After the batter hits the ball, he is no longer considered a batter and must vacate the batter’s box.
Contact is not necessary for the umpire to call the batter out for interference.
A common occurrence is when the batter-runner and the catcher collide in front of home plate as the catcher comes out to field a batted ball and the batter is moving to 1B. If there is no intent on the part of either player to impede the other player from making the play or running to 1B, no interference is called. This play is commonly referred to as “tangle-untangle.”
Example of tangle-untangle
Explanation of the tangle-untangle rule
Steal of Home
The batter has a right to remain in the batter’s box when there is a steal of home or a when there is an attempt to execute a suicide or safety squeeze. He can’t be expected to disappear. He would only be called out if he intentionally interfered with the catcher. The batter also has a right to be in the batter’s box and remain in his stance without ducking when the catcher is attempting to pick a runner off a base.
When there is a wild pitch or passed ball and a runner is advancing home from third, the batter must vacate the box because he is not a batter in those situations.
Penalty for Batter’s Interference on a Play at Home Plate
If there are fewer than two outs, the runner is called out. With two outs, the batter is called out because he will not be entitled to lead off the next inning, thereby rewarding him for interference. In either case, the run does not score.
The proper way for an umpire to call interference is to use a big voice saying, “Time, that is interference. Then point to the player who will be called out and say, “You, you’re out!”
[Official Rules – MLB]
Insider Reports: Interference at Home Plate
Batters and runners must know the “Right of Way” for fielders. This Insider Reports details the rules concerning batter interference on plays around home plate.
When is a fielder protected? When must a batter vacate the batter’s box? Answers to these questions and more are in this Rich Marazzi Insider Report.