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Maddon reflects on replay challenge that wasn't

On close call, club's video coordinator advises manager not to appeal play

ST. PETERSBURG -- The instant replay challenge that didn't happen in Monday's Rays season opener sat on the front burner Tuesday.

In the third inning, Tampa Bay ace David Price threw to first base in an attempt to pick off Toronto's Colby Rasmus. Umpire Bill Welke called him safe, prompting Rays manager Joe Maddon to walk slowly to first base as the wheels went into motion on the bench and in the club's video room.

Bench coach Davey Martinez quickly called Chris "Chico" Fernandez, the Rays' video coordinator, who began looking at 12 different video screens to see if the video evidence was convincing enough to challenge the call.

"It looked like from where I was at and from where Joe was at that he was out," Martinez said. "When Chico looked at it, he said it was really close. ... It's got to be conclusive. Are they going to see it and overturn it?"

Maddon has been studying how to handle the new instant replay rules and he had one message for Fernandez before the season started: "Just be honest. Tell me what you see. Don't be afraid of being wrong, ever. ... Give us your best call and we'll go with it."

Fernandez wasn't convinced.

"I thought he was out, but it was close, and based on the guidelines, I wasn't sure," Fernandez said.

Fernandez's indifference prompted Martinez to signal Maddon to abort any plans to challenge the call and the game moved on from there.

Maddon believes the instant replay rule will bring about a positive offshoot to the game.

"I think two things are going to occur because of this," Maddon said. "The first part is that the relationship between umpires, players, managers and coaches is actually going to benefit from all of this. Because of the system being in place, there's going to be less reason to be upset or to argue.

"And then beyond that, you're going to find out how often umpires are right. I think those are the two benefits that are going to be derived from this that are going to work in the favor of the umpire. I really believe they want this, because they don't want to leave the ballpark knowing that they influenced the game with a call that wasn't right. They're all about that."

Added Martinez: "The good thing about it, the umpires are willing to work with us and give us time. Joe positioned himself to where he could see me, that was great. And it all worked out. ... You don't realize how important Chico is now."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for
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