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Mets ask MLB for clarification over Dodgers' use of laser rangefinder

Mets ask MLB for clarification over Dodgers' use of laser rangefinder
Manager Dave Roberts says the Dodgers asked for permission to mark the field using a rangefinder, but the Mets disagree. (Alex Gallardo / Associated Press)

The headaches for rookie Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts involve every facet of his roster. His lineup features veterans performing below expectations. Beyond the brilliance of Clayton Kershaw, the rotation suffers from inconsistency. The bullpen wobbles with regularity.

And then came Saturday.

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"Lasers in the outfield," Roberts said. "I guess this has been a story."

Hours before Saturday's game against the Mets, Roberts found himself discussing the intersection of his team's analytical bent, the onward rush of technology and his own team's place within the culture.

The issue stemmed from a pregame flap on Friday. The Mets contacted the Major League Baseball office to question the Dodgers' usage of a laser rangefinder, a device designed to gauge distance, to aid the team's outfield position. Messages left for MLB spokesmen went unreturned. Fox Sports first reported the complaint on Saturday afternoon.

Roberts and the Dodgers denied usage of the laser during the game, which would violate a rule about using electronics during the game. He insisted his team merely followed a protocol that had extended to other clubs. He was surprised to learn the Mets had asked MLB officials to investigate.

The Mets and the Dodgers presented differing timelines on the discussion. Roberts indicated that first-base coach George Lombard approached the Citi Field grounds crew before the game and requested permission to place markers in the outfield. The Dodgers mark the outfield at Dodger Stadium, and Roberts said the team has allowed visiting clubs the same privilege.

"Every team has different priorities," Roberts said. "There have been various teams that have asked to make a mark on our field. We've been OK with it."

In Roberts' version of events, the Mets denied the Dodgers' request. From his perspective, that settled the matter. Lombard referred questions to Roberts. So did Dodgers President Stan Kasten.

Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson said the Dodgers did not ask permission. He suggested "marking the field seemed to go beyond the rule book."

"We observed some members of the Dodgers organization using technology to establish defensive positions, presumably to use during the game," Alderson said. "We weren't sure that was appropriate."

The coming days will determine whether baseball agrees with his assertion. One matter settled on Saturday afternoon was far more farcical, based on a fan's video of Howie Kendrick pulling an object out of his pocket in left field and studying it. Kendrick laughed at the idea of him using a cell phone during a game.

"Do I look like Manny?" Kendrick said.

No, Kendrick did not stash a phone like Ramirez once did in Fenway Park's Green Monster. Kendrick was studying the team's positioning chart, also designed by Lombard, which helps the fielders find their proper place in the outfield. The team entered Saturday's game ranked 13th in the majors in defensive runs saved, according to FanGraphs.

Follow Andy McCullough on Twitter: @McCulloughTimes

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