SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — 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. EST 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. During the wait, Rahl said he realized he perhaps was part of history.
“It’s kind of funny. I was thinking, ‘Is this the first one?’” he said.
O’Nora made the final ruling from a satellite truck outside the stadium. During the regular season, umpires on the field will check with the replay booth in New York, where an MLB umpire will make the final call.
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.