What happens when a pitched ball sticks to, but does not enter, a catcher’s chest protector, as occurred with Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina on April 6, 2017? Is that considered a “lodged ball,” pursuant to Official Baseball Rule 5.06(c)(7), which states, “The ball becomes dead and runners advance one base, or return to
their bases, without liability to be put out, when—A pitched ball lodges in the umpire’s or catcher’s mask or paraphernalia, and remains out of play, runners advance one base”?
The answer is “no,” in this play, a ball simply sticking to a catcher’s equipment or apparel was not lodged, since it (1) remained readily accessible to Molina, (2) Molina did not attempt to retrieve it, and (3) when Molina and/or HP Umpire Quinn Wolcott eventually pulled the ball off the chest protector, it easily and without delay was detached. Reference a Yoenis Cespedis play from Spring Training 2016 for a similar non-lodged ball situation.
Not addressed in this analysis: Did Molina’s chest protector possess an illegal amount of “Stick-Em,” pine tar or other foreign substance (or did pitcher Brett Cecil apply such adhesive material to the ball directly)? Another question for another day.