Balk Shouldn’t Have Been Called, Ump Says
Diekman was working out of the stretch with runners on first and second when Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado wanted to call time and made a movement out of the batter’s box, although he never left the box and time had never been called. Diekman began his delivery to the plate, but upon seeing Arenado move out of the box he believed time had been called and stopped his delivery. Home plate umpire Jim Joyce called a balk.
Phillies interim manager Ryne Sandberg and Joyce had three conversations about the call during the game. Sandberg’s contention: a hitter cannot induce a balk. Rule 6.02(b) states: “If after the pitcher starts his windup or comes to a ‘set position’ with a runner on, he does not go through with his pitch because the batter has stepped out of the box, it shall not be called a balk.”
Joyce spoke about the call following the game with Randy Marsh, who is Major League Baseball’s director of umpires. Marsh is in town this week.
“I implemented the balk wrong,” Joyce said before Tuesday’s game. “The rule actually states if the batter leaves the batter’s box and causes the pitcher to hesitate or stop a balk shall not be called. I got probably a little more technical on that. He didn’t leave the box, but the spirit of the rule is if you make the pitcher stop by some sort of action by the batter a balk shall not be called. I probably was a little overzealous in throwing out that balk.”
Joyce said he spoke with Sandberg and Rockies manager Walt Weiss about it before tonight’s game.
“You could have the hitter step out and if the pitcher delivers a weaker pitch they could step back in and whack it, if they’re just trying to deliver a pitch,” Sandberg said. “So for me it’s a total disadvantage for the pitcher there in all regards to the play. The rule states that and I think that’s why the rule is what it is.”