Batters box delay in Tigers-White Sox
The Tigers brought their lineup to U.S. Cellular Field on Friday ready to take their swings at the fences. Three batters into the White Sox home opener, they realized they were swinging a little closer than usual.
Miguel Cabrera stepped to the plate with two outs in the top of the first inning and immediately pointed to the batters box, arguing that it didn’t extend far enough back. As it turned out, out he was right. Home-plate umpire Adrian Johnson confirmed that the box was drawn too far forward and stopped the game for the grounds crew to rechalk the lines.
According to diagrams in the Major League Baseball rulebook, the batters box must be four feet wide and six feet deep, extending three feet each way from the midpoint of home plate. The batter must stay in that box when he’s hitting, though the back line usually gets blurred by hitters’ back foot soon after the game starts.
The box appeared to be the right dimensions, but it was centered too far forward. Neither Austin Jackson nor Brennan Boesch noticed it in their at-bats before Cabrera came up, but either Cabrera or someone in the Tigers dugout did.
It’s a rare miscue. Major League grounds crews have wooden frames made out to the batters box dimensions so that they can chalk the lines quickly and exactly. It can make a big difference for a hitter who wants to stay as far back as possible to get an extra split-second to react to the pitch.
The game was delayed for about five minutes while the grounds crew swept off the chalk of the old box and redrew it. Cabrera, meanwhile, drew a heavy amount of boos from the U.S. Cellular Field crowd, which has made him a favorite target in his four-plus seasons with the rival Tigers.
Once they finally had it right, Cabrera stepped to the plate and flew out to right on the first pitch.