Scioscia utilizes challenge in Monday's spring game against D-backs
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Angels' replay command center is coming from humble beginnings.
It involved Nick Francona, hired in the offseason as coordinator of Major League player information, sitting on a rolling chair in the hallway of the visiting clubhouse at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, leaning back and watching the broadcast of the Angels' Cactus League game on a small, singular flat-screen TV.
It's safe to assume things will be a lot more advanced once the games actually start counting.
"The general consensus is that Spring Training is for the on-field choreography of what they're trying to get down, and the actual technology of the system of giving the replay itself will come," said Francona, son of Indians manager Terry Francona. "Home and away is installing the same system, so obviously this will not be the plan during the regular season."
The Angels played their first Cactus League "replay game" against the D-backs on Monday -- and manager Mike Scioscia quickly burned his only challenge.
Luis Jimenez was called out at second base on a botched hit-and-run in the top of the second. But the throw from ex-Angels catcher Bobby Wilson sailed high, and the replay Francona saw from the broadcast feed showed that second baseman Aaron Hill might have missed the tag.
So, Francona got on his walkie-talkie, told bench coach Dino Ebel the play was worth challenging, and Ebel waived his hat at Scioscia, who was already out arguing with second-base umpire Bill Miller.
Two minutes and 31 seconds later, after congregating at the camera well near the first-base dugout and communicating with an additional umpire sitting in a nearby TV truck, the call was upheld, and Scioscia was out of challenges for the rest of the day.
Part of Scioscia just wanted to get a feel for how this whole expanded replay thing would play out.
"I think we all did," Scioscia said. "We weren't going to try to make a mockery of it, but that play was pretty close."
Earlier in the day, two different calls were challenged and upheld by umpires during the Twins-Blue Jays game in Fort Myers, Fla., marking the first time baseball's new expanded replay rules were put to use.
Under the expanded-replay rules, which officially go into effect at the start of the 2014 season, every manager starts the game with one challenge. If it's upheld, he gets one more. If not, he loses it. Umpires can't review a play under their own discretion -- except boundary calls on home runs and home-plate collisions -- until the start of the seventh inning.
That gives coaching staffs a lot more to think about.
"Replay consumed a ton of the game," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said, even though he didn't challenge a call. "I think it's much more complicated than we thought. We had a lot more conversations during the game."
The Angels have 14 additional "replay games" during Spring Training, including Tuesday's contest against the Rangers at Tempe Diablo Stadium.
Teams will have multiple camera angles during the regular season and can see all the available ones that are available, not just the ones the broadcast decides to show. In Spring Training, that's not the case. During the season, there will also be a dedicated landline to communicate with each dugout. And the umpire in charge of making a determination off replay will be stationed at the MLB Advanced Media's Replay Command Center in New York.
"One of the things right now is we don't have the technology to get those quicker, so we have to wait a little bit to get a read on it," Scioscia said. "There are some things that have to be smoothed out."