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Replays back up umpires in tests

MLB tries out new format for 1st time; 3 of 3 rulings upheld

– Challenged for the first time under Major League Baseball’s expanded replay system, umpires got it right.

The umps went 3 for 3 on Monday as MLB tried out the new format at three spring training games.

The first test came at 3:06 p.m. in Fort Myers, Fla., after first base umpire Fieldin Culbreth ruled Toronto shortstop Munenori Kawasaki’s throw pulled Jared Goedert off the bag in the sixth inning.

“I’m not too sure that you’re not right here,” Culbreth said Blue Jays manager John 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.”

After 2 minutes, 34 seconds, replay umpire Brian O’Nora relayed his call by headset, confirming that Minnesota batter Chris Rahl was safe.

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

“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.

In the eighth inning, Doug Bernier of the Twins was called safe on a close play at first. As Culbreth studied the replay, the ballpark sound system played a Rolling Stones song with the familiar lyric, “I can’t get no satisfaction.”

The call was confirmed, Bernier was safe.

Extra replay also was in place for two games in Arizona – the Los Angeles Angels vs. Arizona Diamondbacks in Scottsdale and the Chicago Cubs against Milwaukee in Phoenix.

Each team in the majors will have at least five exhibition games with the new system in place.

In January, owners approved the use of additional video replay to review most calls other than balls-and-strikes. Previously, umpires could only go to replay to review home runs and boundary calls.

Moments after the first replay call, Angels manager Mike Scioscia 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.

“We weren’t trying to make a mockery out of it,” Scioscia said of using the challenge so soon. “We thought it was a pretty close play.”

There was only one angle available with the limited camera work of a spring training telecast.

“If we have 15 angles of that,” Scioscia said, “there’s a possibility it gets reversed.”

That review took 2:31.

Since he lost the challenge, Scioscia had no more.

“I don’t think it’s going to take much time in the logistics. That will smooth out,” he said. “As far as the strategy of it, that’s going to take a lot. It might be something you win, but you know you need that challenge to save the big play somewhere.”

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and Arizona’s Kirk Gibson did not use their challenge. Neither did Cubs manager Rick Renteria nor the Brewers’ Ron Roenicke.

Gibson said he thought about contesting a close play when Paul Goldschmidt nearly beat out a grounder but said he decided it was 50-50 and not worth it.

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