Ausmus meets with MLB to clarify instant replay
Manager, Tigers officials discussed new rules with Torre, La Russa on Friday
LAKELAND, Fla. -- New manager Brad Ausmus was briefed on Friday with the rest of the Tigers hierarchy about the new instant replay system that is being implemented by Major League Baseball this season.
The meeting with Joe Torre, MLB's executive vice president of baseball operations, and Tony La Russa, a special consultant with MLB, is one of many the two prospective Hall of Fame managers are having with all 30 clubs in Florida and Arizona this spring.
"They did give us a caveat that it's 99.9 percent done, regarding what they showed us yesterday," Ausmus said before the Tigers worked out at Joker Marchant Stadium on Saturday. "They said that over the course of the meetings they're having, that something could come up where there could be a change, but by all intents and purposes, what they presented to us is what we're going to take into the season."
Ausmus said he is a big believer in the new system. Prior to this season, replay had been utilized only on home runs -- fair or foul, in or out of the ballpark. Now, replay will be available for most plays that don't involve a strike or ball call.
"I think it will be positive," Ausmus said. "There will be some bumps in the road just because it's a new system, but overall, it will be better for baseball."
Ausmus said most of the new replay rules are the same as what was presented and approved by the owners at their first quarterly meetings of the year this past January in Paradise Valley, Ariz.
Managers will receive one challenge during the first six innings of each game, and if they are correct, will be able to re-use the challenge.
"You get a second," Ausmus said, "but you don't get a third."
After the sixth inning and into extras, replays will be at the discretion of the crew on the field only.
"I think that if there are any questions, the umpires will check it," Ausmus said.
A non-uniformed member of the team will be able sit in the team's clubhouse video room and communicate with the dugout via telephone.
"We'll be getting the video feeds in real time," Ausmus said. "So Matt Martin will be looking at it in real time. And in many cases, if the play is, 'Did he beat the throw at first or not,' we'll know in a matter of seconds. And there's nothing saying you can't have a signal with the bench saying, 'Challenge or don't challenge.'"
Replay decisions will be made by an umpiring crew in New York and are non-arguable.
"When a play is reviewed, you can't argue that," Ausmus said. "It's like a balk or a ball or a strike. You can't argue that."
There will be no flags thrown to signal a challenge.
"It's verbal," Ausmus said. "It would be kind of fun to throw it, but I think they're worried about somebody throwing it at the umpire."
There will be penalties if the umpires determine that a manager is trying to slow down a game, pending a decision to challenge.
"If you flagrantly go out and try to delay on more difficult decisions, I know they can warn you," Ausmus said. "And if you don't heed the warning, I think they can take your challenge away. Because it's a new system, the umpires will give you some leeway, but you're not supposed to delay flagrantly."
Certainly, it's just another area for a manager to be second-guessed.
"Yeah, if you use your challenge in the second inning and get it wrong, and there's a big play in the sixth, I guess you can get second-guessed," Ausmus said. "I'll just blame our video guy, just point the finger at him."
Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.