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Are catchers allowed to block the plate before they receive the ball if the ball is fielded in the infield ?

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  • Out of curiosity, why do you think they would be?
    – Joe
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 18:03

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No, the catcher is not allowed to block home plate without possession of the ball. For this, it doesn't matter whether the ball is coming from the infield or somewhere else.

This can be found in MLB's Official Baseball Rules (OBR) 2015 edition Rule 6.01(i)(2):

Unless the catcher is in possession of the ball, the catcher cannot block the pathway of the runner as he is attempting to score. If, in the judgement of the umpire, the catcher without possession of the ball blocks the pathway of the runner, the umpire shall call or signal the runner safe. [...]

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  • It goes on to give an exception: that the catcher can block the plate while attempting to field a throw. Interestingly, a case not addressed: the catcher might block the plate while attempting to field a batted ball (imagine a squeeze play where the bunt goes up the third base line). It's not clear whether that's allowed, but if it is, that would be an infield play for which the catcher could block the plate before having the ball. Commented Sep 23, 2015 at 4:17
  • The case of a fielder (including the catcher) attempting to field a batted ball is addressed in 6.01(a)(10). The same rule also makes a very important distinction between batted balls and thrown balls. Whereas the fielder has priority on batted balls, it will only be interference by a runner on a thrown ball if intentionally done so! The same principle applies to plays for the catcher as well. In general if the catcher is attempting to field a batted ball he is not considered to be blocking the plate at all, so 6.01(i) does not apply. Commented Sep 23, 2015 at 20:45

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