MLB clubs approve expanded instant replay (plus Henry Rodriguez note)

All 30 Major League clubs have approved expanded instant replay, which will be in effect for the 2014 regular season, as well as the postseason. Both the Major League Baseball Players Association and the World Umpires Association have also given their consent to the game’s new instant replay protocols.

Not only is the list of plays subject to review now longer, but managers will have the ability to challenge at least one play a game, as well.

In addition, clubs will now be allowed to show all replays on the ballpark scoreboard, regardless of whether the play was reviewed. This should help make the experience more enjoyable for those at the game, who don’t have the benefit of DVR or instant replays on their televisions.

Here is how the managers’ challenge system will now work: Managers will get at least one challenge, and can challenge multiple aspects of a play. If any portion of the challenged play is overturned, then the manager will retain the ability to challenge another play during the game. No manager may challenge more than two plays in a game.

After the beginning of the seventh inning, the crew chief may choose to utilize replay on any reviewable call.

The decisions on plays that are reviewed will no longer be made by the umpires on site. They will instead be made by umpires that are staffed as replay officials at a so-called “Replay Command Center” at MLB Advanced Media headquarters in New York. There will be a designated communication location near home plate at all 30 MLB ballparks, and the crew chief and at least one other umpire will have access to a headset where they can communicate with the replay officials at the Replay Command Center.

The new instant replay system will be utilized during some televised spring training games for the purposes of educating the on-field personnel on the new rules.

Here is the list of plays that will now be subject to review:

* Home run
* Ground rule double
* Fan interference
* Stadium boundary calls (e.g., fielder into stands, ball into stands triggering dead ball)
* Force play (except the fielder’s touching of second base on a double play)
* Tag play (including steals and pickoffs)
* Fair/foul in outfield only
* Trap play in outfield only
* Batter hit by pitch
* Timing play (whether a runner scores before a third out)
* Touching a base (requires appeal)
* Passing runners
* Record keeping (Ball-strike count to a batter, outs, score, and substitutions)

You’ll notice that the so-called “neighborhood rule” (an infielder being allowed to be near, but not on, second base when turning a double play) will still be allowed. Teams feared that changing that unwritten rule and making it reviewable would lead to more injuries, with infielders needing to stay on second base longer and remaining in the path of oncoming baserunners.

So there you have it. Should make things interesting this season as these new policies are put into place.

On a different note, former Nationals reliever Henry Rodriguez has signed a minor league deal with the Marlins that includes an invitation to big league spring training, according to multiple reports.

Rodriguez flashed immense potential but struggled with his control while with the Nats. In parts of three years with the Nats, the flame-throwing righty struck out 112 in 113 innings, but also walked 83 and threw 26 wild pitches. The Nationals designated Rodriguez for assignment last summer and then traded him to the Cubs, but Rodriguez made just five appearances for Chicago before being designated for assignment again.

The Cubs granted Rodriguez free agency this November, and now he’s looking for a fresh start with the Marlins.

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