There is a written rule in baseball that allows the umpire to call a strike if a batter is taking too long to get into his batting stance in the box. Not many people know about the rule but now Vinnie Catricala of the Double-A Midland Rock Hounds (Oakland Athletics) is all too familiar.
On Friday night the Rockhounds were taking on the Corpus Christi Hooks (Houston Astros) and Vinnie Catricala stepped in for the first pitch from pitcher Nick Tripeano. The pitch, even though it looked like a ball to me, was called a strike. Catricala disagreed with the call and stepped out of the box and gave home plate umpire Ron Teague a piece of his mind. After stating his case, Catricala proceeded to take his sweet ass time getting back into the box. That is when Ron Teague puffed up his chest and invoked Rule 6.02 (c), which reads as follows:
If the batter refuses to take his position in the batter’s box during his time at bat, the umpire shall call a strike on the batter. The ball is dead, and no runners may advance. After the penalty, the batter may take his proper position and the regular ball and strike count shall continue. If the batter does not take his proper position before three strikes have been called, the batter shall be declared out
Comment: The umpire shall give the batter a reasonable opportunity to take his proper position in the batter’s box after the umpire has called a strike pursuant to Rule 6.02(c) and before the umpire calls a successive strike pursuant to Rule 6.02(c).
Catricala, according to Crawfish Bones, stepped out of the box for 3.9 seconds before Teague invoked the rule and called strike two. You can see him in the video repeatedly telling him to get into the box, but Catricala wasn’t taking an exorbitant amount of time to readjust. Teague was just pissed that the kid had challenged him, so he provoked him and rang him up on a rule that no one knew existed.
In my opinion, Teague overreacted immensely but Catricala knows that you cannot challenge and umpire like that without repercussions. Obviously no one knew about this rule except for Teague but you can bet that the managers around the league are now making sure their hitters know not to mess around.