Baker meets with Torre, Leyland about replay, rule changes

VIERA, Fla. - Dusty Baker was out of baseball only two years, but a lot happened in those two years, most notably the expansion of instant replay in the sport.

So Baker's biggest challenge now that he's managing the Nationals after a couple of years away from the game might have nothing to do with lineups or pitching changes, but replay challenge strategy.

Baker got something of a crash course in that subject, plus Major League Baseball's recent rule changes, during a two-hour meeting this afternoon with officials Joe Torre and Jim Leyland. The two former managers, now working in the commissioner's office, are traveling around from camp to camp this spring, meeting with every team to go over the changes.

Having watched plenty of games on television during his two years out of the dugout, Baker has a good sense of the replay process. But he understands he still has things to learn before he's comfortable actually initiating the process in a game.

Dusty Baker MLB logo.jpg"They've tweaked it some from what I thought I understood, from what I watched on TV," he said. "That was my interest from afar. But our guys in the video room, that's who you depend on anyway. Those are the guys who know all the rules, the nuances of the rules."

The biggest dilemma when a replay challenge is possible? Baker thinks the game situation needs to take priority.

"I've got to decide: Is the risk worth the gain?" he said. "Like in the first inning, is it worth possibly losing my (challenge)? And it could be because that could be the whole ballgame. You just have to figure is the risk worth the gain? And are we on offense or defense? And do I break our club's momentum if I have them on the run? This game, most of the action happens within a few seconds. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom! Next thing you know, it's like calling a timeout. Do you call a timeout and take a chance of being right or wrong? Or do you let the action flow? We've got them on the run, let it fly. To me, it's not about being right and wrong as much as it is what I think is best for my club at the time, and how it's going to impact the outcome of the game."

Baker plans to spend time watching a video Torre and Leyland are sending to every team, one that outlines the recent change to the takeout slide rule at second base, among other things. He'll then have to convey those rule changes to his players.

Perhaps Baker's favorite moment of today's meeting, though, involved a reminder of the rule for bat boys' minimum age. They must be at least 14, a rule that was adopted after a famous moment in the 2002 World Series, when Baker's then three-year-old son Darren was rescued by the Giants' J.T. Snow before a potentially dangerous play at the plate.

"We went over the Darren Baker Rule," Baker said with a laugh. "You've got to be 14. He's 17 now. I never thought he'd get here."

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