Jays, Angels use replay system


FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Major League Baseball launched its new replay era Monday, when Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons unsuccessfully challenged a close play at first base in the sixth inning of his team's game with the Minnesota Twins.

The game was the first spring training game in history to use MLB's new replay technology, which allows for the review of a wide variety of calls. Replay also was used in the Los Angeles Angels' game against the Arizona Diamondbacks later in the day in Scottsdale, Ariz., and was available for the Chicago Cubs- Milwaukee Brewers matchup in Phoenix.

With two outs in the sixth and a runner at second base, Twins right fielder Chris Rahl bounced what looked like a routine hopper to Blue Jays shortstop Munenori Kawasaki.

Kawasaki's throw to first was high and forced first baseman Jared Goedert to leap to catch it. Goedert came down and appeared to touch the bag at about the same time that Rahl reached first base.

First-base umpire Fieldin Culbreth signaled safe, and Gibbons immediately popped out of the dugout and informed Culbreth he wanted to challenge the call.

"I'm not too sure that you're not right here," Culbreth said Gibbons told him, "but since we haven't done it before, let's go take a look."

Culbreth answered: "OK. That's what it's for."

Culbreth and the plate umpire walked over to the visitors' dugout and donned headsets while they awaited the ruling from replay umpire Brian O'Nora. During the season, plays will be reviewed at MLB offices in New York. However, plays in this game were reviewed by a crew in a satellite truck outside the stadium. O'Nora was one of three umpires who rotated for a three-inning turn as the replay umpire in charge.

After a 2-minute, 34-second wait -- about twice as long as MLB officials say most reviews will take once the system is fully up and running -- Culbreth removed his headset and again signaled that Rahl was safe, although replays indicated he might have been out. The umpires made no announcement to the crowd at Lee County Sports Complex.

During the wait, Rahl said he realized he perhaps was part of history.

"It's kind of funny. I was thinking, 'Is this the first one?' " he said.

Later in the game, Culbreth rotated and took a turn in the truck, confirming another safe call at first base.

In the eighth inning, Doug Bernier of the Twins was called safe on a close play. Culbreth studied the replay and confirmed the call in about 2½ minutes.

"I'm looking at this thing as, this is the future of the game. And I'm going to treat these games here the same way that I'm going to treat them during the regular season," Culbreth said.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia also wasted little time in using his challenge.

In the top of the second, Luis Jimenez of the Angels tried to steal second. Catcher Bobby Wilson's throw was high but second-base umpire Bill Miller ruled that Aaron Hill tagged the runner out.

Scioscia bounded out of the dugout and charged toward Miller to argue, just like managers always have done.

Instead, though, he chose to use his challenge. After two of the umpires made a quick visit to the Angels' dugout to communicate with the replay umpire, the call was upheld.

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