GOODYEAR, Ariz.: A day after meeting with Major League Baseball executives for details on the league’s new expanded instant replay rules, Indians manager Terry Francona could still use more clarification.
“It was interesting,” Francona said of the handful of Indians front office members who traveled Tuesday to Peoria to meet with major-league executives. “They did a really good job of explaining things, but there’s a lot to explain … what’s reviewable, what’s not. What’s going to work, how they’d like it to work, things to work on. It’s a lot.”
“Any time there’s something new, I think your initial [reaction] is panic or anxiety, especially with all that’s potentially riding on it. So, my first thought was, ‘OK, slow down, take a deep breath, process it, and then try to figure out as we go what’s the best way to view this.’?”
Francona said it helps that MLB representatives — including executive vice president of baseball operations Joe Torre, senior vice president of standards and on-field operations Joe Garagiola Jr. and supervisor of umpires Steve Palermo — were already scheduled to make their annual spring stop at Indians camp today to meet with the team. It’s a meeting that Francona expects to include more discussion about the replay rules as well as another hot topic — the new home-plate collision rules.
“It’ll be a good time for us — in a smaller setting — to go over some things,” Francona said. “Because you have some relationships with some of these guys, it’s easier in a smaller setting. I love when Steve Palermo comes, I don’t want him to leave. I give him a bag of chew — don’t tell his wife that — and he’ll sit and talk to me all day. I love it because he’ll tell you if you’re wrong, you’re wrong. I like it … I know I’ll feel better [today].”
Francona relayed that each club will get a “minimum” of five spring training games “and possibly more” with expanded replay in order to test them out in game situations.
“I haven’t been out there yelling for it because I always felt like you need an answer for something when you’re complaining about it and I never did,” he said. “As much as we want to get every call right, the umpires are pretty good. [With replay] you’re watching it on HD and you get to slow it down. If it’s this far off the plate, we’re all [complaining]. Think about it when it’s going 96 mph.”
With a handful of plays that can go either way during a three-hour baseball game, one of the toughest parts of the new rule will be knowing when a play is worth a review challenge.
“Early on, it wouldn’t be shocking if we were conservative and save up our challenges,” said Francona, who noted the ultimate decision is placed on the manager’s shoulders. “And we’re going to need to explain to our guys that it’s a team challenge because you’re going to cost some guys hits. But as a manager and a coaching staff, we’re going to have to use judgment on what helps our team the most.
“We’re gonna need to sit and walk through it a bit. Is it more important to save your pitcher some pitches as opposed to maybe a guy getting on base with two outs? Those are the things we’re going to have to sit down and think through that we’ve never had to do before. It’s really different. We need to learn as much as we can as quickly as we can.”
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