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Baseball clarifies controversial transfer rule

Brett Gardner of the Yankees was safe at second Thursday because Dustin Pedroia dropped the ball as he tried to turn a double play, but following a change to the transfer  rule, he would be out.

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Brett Gardner of the Yankees was safe at second Thursday because Dustin Pedroia dropped the ball as he tried to turn a double play, but following a change to the transfer rule, he would be out.

NEW YORK — Baseball clarified the meaning of possession for infielders trying to turn double plays on forceouts, saying on Friday that they must have complete control of the ball but may drop it after intentionally opening their gloves for transfers to their throwing hands.

In the first season of expanded instant replay, when infielders have possession while trying to turn double plays has become controversial.

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Major League Baseball said the interpretation of the Playing Rules Committee was agreed to by MLB, the players’ association and the umpires’ union.

The rule was on display in Thursday’s Red Sox-Yankees game at Fenway Park. In the second inning, Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia appeared to force out Yankees runner Brett Gardner at second base, but Gardner was ruled safe because as Pedroia transferred the ball from glove to throwing hand, he dropped it.

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MLB said that the committee, chaired by New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson, determined ‘‘a legal catch has occurred ... if the fielder had complete control over the ball in his glove, but drops the ball after intentionally opening his glove to make the transfer to his throwing hand.’’

‘‘There is no requirement that the fielder successfully remove the ball from his glove in order for it be ruled a catch,’’ the committee said. ‘‘If the fielder drops the ball while attempting to remove it to make a throw, the umpires should rule that the ball had been caught, provided that the fielder had secured it in his glove before attempting the transfer.’’

The committee also said ‘‘the umpires will continue to use their judgment as to whether the fielder had complete control over the ball before the transfer.’’

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