Use of overhead TV camera for baseball is pondered


Officials from Major League Baseball and the players’ association were in Angel Stadium on Tuesday night to evaluate the test of a new overhead camera used on FS West’s telecast of the Dodgers-Angels game.

Fox would like to implement the “Field Cam,” which gives viewers shots from above the playing field, for three nationally televised games in May, the All-Star game, the American League Championship Series and the World Series.

The camera, which is computer-operated and moves on a system of wires and pulleys rigged throughout the stadium, is similar to that used on NFL telecasts.


Fox used it on a limited basis for a regular-season game in Atlanta last season but would need the approval of the players’ union and commissioner’s office to expand its use.

“Last year, we were only allowed to have it maneuver out of play, so if Rafael Furcal hit a single, we could follow him from home to first base,” said Dan Bell, vice president of communications for Fox Sports. “With this, we could follow him from first base to third.

“We want to extend the field and give viewers incredible shots that they’ve never seen before. The key [Tuesday] night is to make the players and MLB comfortable with it so we can use it in the future.”

Former big league first baseman Tony Clark, who works for the players’ association, spent time in both dugouts during the game to get feedback from players.

Joe Garagiola Jr., senior vice president of on-field operations for MLB, was also at the game and met with Fox and union officials.

During batting practice, players from both teams gawked at the camera, which looked like a small spaceship as it hovered above the plate area and down the lines, toward the foul poles.

Some players wondered whether it could be too intrusive.

“It might be a distraction for an outfielder to have that camera moving toward you,” Angels catcher Bobby Wilson said. “And what if there’s a popup behind the plate with backspin? Those wires might be in the way.

“Sometimes a ball can go three or four rows in and come back. It will be cool for the fans, but an adjustment for the players.”

Reliever Kevin Jepsen, the Angels’ assistant union representative, didn’t like the idea of Fox using the camera in the playoffs.

“The last thing you want in the postseason is anything outside the game affecting the outcome,” Jepsen said. “It’s different in football because no one is throwing the ball that high.

“What if an outfielder takes his eye off the ball to run to a spot, looks up to find the ball and sees the camera out of the corner of his eye? It’s going to be interesting.”

Rehab report

Joel Pineiro, who will open the season on the disabled list because of tightness in his right shoulder-blade area, threw 59 pitches in four innings of a minor league game in Arizona on Tuesday and “felt great,” Manager Mike Scioscia said.

Pineiro is scheduled to start again Sunday in Arizona, and barring a setback, he will start the Angels’ home opener against Toronto on April 8.