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A's will have 10-game test run on new replay rules

PHOENIX -- Bob Melvin attended a two-hour meeting with fellow Cactus League managers on Monday to be further educated on the new instant-replay rules. He came out of it feeling "dizzy."

"It was a long meeting, and rightly so," the A's manager said. "There were certainly a lot of things I hadn't thought of before. There are just a lot of things you could potentially review, and I think they did a great job of designating what's reviewable and what's not and why, and it made a lot of sense."

The rules will be implemented for real during the season, but Melvin will first have the opportunity to test out the new system this spring during all televised games. For the A's, that's 10 games in which Melvin will be encouraged to challenge plays and explore the process.

He's thankful for the learning curve.

"I got the answers for the most part," he said. "I think Spring Training will be a part of that process, and hopefully we get some of the kinks worked out before we get to the start of the season."

Prior to this season, replay had been utilized only on home runs, to review whether they were fair or foul, in or out of the ballpark. Now, it will be available for almost all plays that don't involve a strike-zone call.

Managers receive one challenge during the first six innings of each game, though if they successfully get a call overturned, they receive another. Once the seventh inning begins, replays will be at the discretion of the umpires.

Rules governing plate collisions were also released Monday, and Melvin was pleased to find they don't read much differently than before, noting that they're simply "more succinct with the language."

The experimental regulation states that catchers can only block the plate if they have possession of the ball, while runners are not allowed to deviate from their direct path to the plate to initiate contact with the catcher. Moreover, runners are not allowed to lower their shoulders or push through with their hands, elbows or arms when veering toward the catcher.

Runners who slide, and catchers who provide them with a lane to reach the plate, will not be found in violation of the rules.

"I think they addressed what issues they thought were most important and most prevalent and kind of went with that," Melvin said. "See how it goes and take further steps maybe down the road. It's that one where the ball takes you into the line, where it's going to be a bang-bang play, that will be the most difficult."

This play is among those deemed reviewable by video replay.

Jane Lee is a reporter for
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