Baseball replay issues won't be solved instantly

Baseball replay issues won't be solved instantly
Angels Manager Mike Scioscia looks on during a spring training practice session on Feb. 15. Scioscia says umpires will benefit from better instant replay camera-angle accessibility once the regular season starts. (Matt York / Associated Press)

TEMPE, Ariz. — The new instant-replay and home-plate collision rules were the primary topics of the Angels' annual spring-training Players' Assn. meeting Sunday morning.

There has been some confusion about the rules and how they've been implemented in exhibition games, and new union chief Tony Clark acknowledged a growing concern among players about whether the rules will enhance or detract from the game.


Then, a few hours later, a fifth-inning play in the Angels' 3-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds did nothing to ease the debate.

Hank Conger hit a run-scoring single to right field and took second on the throw to the plate. Reds Manager Bryan Price challenged the call at second. After a 2-minute 15-second delay in which umpires viewed replays from four different camera angles, the call was upheld.

But a fifth angle from the Angels television broadcast, which was not available to the replay official, indicated Conger was out. Instead of the call being overturned, Conger remained at second and scored on Kole Calhoun's RBI single for a 2-0 lead.

"It was an umpire's nightmare," said Randy Marsh, an umpiring supervisor who was at the game and explained what happened to both managers.

"I don't know how the system works," Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said. "I think the guidelines are getting less confusing as we're absorbing it and trying it every day. The logistics of seeing the replay and getting it to the umpire will be better during the season because of the ability to see the play from many angles."

The union will be monitoring the system closely.

"You would not be surprised to hear that we have a lot of players who are purists, and when you start making changes, they're going to be concerned," Clark said. "You're talking about two significant adjustments to what happens on the field."

Clark also believes the replay process will be more streamlined and effective during the regular season, when more camera angles and better technology will be available. But if the backlash against the rules grows, the union could push to eliminate them.

"It's why the replay deal is for one year, and why in the press release about home-plate collisions, we said it's experimental," Clark said. "We will evaluate them. We have the ability to have ongoing dialogue with Major League Baseball. We're not trying to jeopardize or undermine the integrity of the game."

Inside job

Tyler Skaggs rebounded from his shaky Cactus League debut to throw four scoreless innings Sunday, allowing one hit, striking out three — all looking — and walking two.

The 22-year-old left-hander, who is expected to be the Angels' fifth starter, showed a sharp curve and threw inside effectively during the 50-pitch outing, in which he threw 32 strikes.

"That's everyone's game plan, to pitch inside, especially coming over here," said Skaggs, who was acquired from Arizona in the three-team Mark Trumbo trade.

Pitching coach Mike Butcher "preaches to get inside, establish the inside of the plate," Skaggs added. "You have big hitters in the American League, so you have to let them know what's going on, to control the tempo of the game."

Passing grade

Josh Hamilton's first significant test in his return from a left calf strain went well. The left fielder, sidelined for two weeks, took live batting practice and did some on-field agility drills and appears on track to play late this week.

"Each day, I've done more, and each day I come in, I'm not sore," Hamilton said. "I bounce back. There's no real recovery day. I feel like it's going to be stronger than it was before. But I don't want to do anything stupid. I want to give it a couple of days of feeling good, get out there and start running around again and get back in a game."

Short hops

David Freese has been sidelined for two days because of a blood blister on his foot, but Scioscia said the third baseman should be "good to go" Monday. . . . Dane De La Rosa, who suffered a forearm strain Thursday, "definitely feels much better," Scioscia said, but there is no timetable for him to resume throwing.

Twitter: @MikeDiGiovanna