PEORIA, Ariz. -- Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association on Monday announced the adoption of an "experimental" rule to reduce collisions at home plate. The rule doesn't outlaw collisions altogether, but it prevents a runner from straying from his path to the plate, and it prevents the catcher from blocking home without the ball.
"Not much has really changed, other than you can't change direction to go after a catcher," manager Lloyd McClendon said.
John Buck said the ruling still leaves a lot open for umpire interpretation, though he welcomes the change.
"We'll see what happens, because the rule can be interpreted differently for a bunch of different people," said Buck, a 10-year veteran. "The main thing is we had an opportunity to protect people in vulnerable situations and situations where a collision didn't have to happen, and I think we did that."
"We've seen how concussions and some injuries can change the course of somebody's career or even life with head-injury stuff," Buck said. "It would have been pretty irresponsible if we didn't take the opportunity to go ahead and make the game a little safer."
Buck said he was among a group of catchers who saw different versions of the rule as it made its way to adoption.
Three home runs highlight intrasquad game
PEORIA, Ariz. -- If Cactus League games only mean so much -- and the cap is low -- intrasquad games are all but meaningless, save for those directly involved.
With that said, Jabari Blash smashed a long home run that threatened to hit manager Lloyd McClendon's car, and Stefen Romero and Nick Franklin also homered during the Mariners' intrasquad game Tuesday afternoon.
Blash's homer cleared two fences beyond the left-field wall and brought McClendon out of the dugout.
"I thought it was going to hit my car, that's why I jumped up," McClendon said. "But it actually went over the car. That was pretty impressive."
Blash, who hit 25 home runs last season between Class A Advanced High Desert and Double-A Jackson, was actually hit by a pitch from right-hander Logan Bawcom earlier in the at-bat but chose to stay at the plate to take his swings.
Romero, who McClendon has said is in the mix for a roster spot, and Franklin, who is battling Brad Miller for the starting shortstop job, each hit two-run homers.
Romero's was to center off left-hander Anthony Fernandez; Franklin's was an opposite-field shot to right off lefty James Gillheeney.
"Romero swung the bat really well," McClendon said. "I was impressed."
The game was a welcome break from the usual camp routine and showed where some of the team is -- perhaps only one or two of those who played Tuesday are expected to make the Opening Day roster.
"The first 10 days have been a grind," McClendon said. "It's nice to have the change of pace. I'm sure the players are happy to have a change of pace as well.
"I saw some good things; I saw some bad things. That's to be expected, and we'll work on it. We'll build on the strengths and work on the weaknesses."
Third-base coach recovering from hernia surgery
PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Mariners will be without third-base coach John Stearns for four to six weeks after he underwent laparoscopic surgery Monday for a hiatal hernia.
Shortly after arriving in Arizona, Stearns suffered discomfort in his upper abdomen and thought he was having a heart attack, manager Lloyd McClendon said. The surgery was performed by Dr. Jamison Foster at Arrowhead Hospital in Glendale.
Stearns was released Tuesday afternoon and was told by team trainers to stay at home for a couple of days.
McClendon and general manager Jack Zduriencik will discuss internal options to fill the third-base coaching vacancy during Spring Training and perhaps into the regular season.
The Mariners open Cactus League play Thursday and their regular-season opener is five weeks away, March 31.
Stearns, 62, is in his first season as the team's third-base coach, after serving as the organization's Minor League catching coordinator in 2012 and the first part of 2013 before taking over managing duties for Triple-A Tacoma on May 2. He also was a professional scout with the Mariners in 2010-11.
Stearns, nicknamed "Bad Dude" during his playing days, played 11 seasons with the Phillies and Mets before he retired following the 1984 season.
Eight players on 40-man roster agree to terms
PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Mariners on Tuesday announced eight players had agreed to contracts for the coming season.
The signings of pitchers Blake Beavan, Danny Farquhar, Yoervis Medina and Tom Wilhelmsen, infielder Ji-Man Choi and outfielders Abraham Almonte, Xavier Avery and James Jones bring the team's total to 29 of those on the 40-man roster.
Terms of the deals were not disclosed.
Still unsigned are: pitchers Bobby LaFromboise, Lucas Luetge, Brandon Maurer, Hector Noesi, Stephen Pryor, Erasmo Ramirez and Taijuan Walker; catcher Jesus Sucre and infielders Brad Miller, Jesus Montero and Carlos Triunfel.
The Mariners said the 11 unsigned, pre-arbitration players will be signed or renewed by March 11.
• Top prospect Taijuan Walker threw long toss Tuesday and is expected to do so again Wednesday, manager Lloyd McClendon said. Walker showed up to camp with a sore pitching shoulder and last threw off a mound Feb. 17.
"He's doing fine, moving along with the program," McClendon said.
• Jesus Montero had two hits during the intrasquad game but was thrown out at second on a hard-hit ball down the left-field line.
Chris Gabel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.