Toronto Blue Jays Manager John Gibbons Makes History With First Replay Challenge
Spring Training is a time for MLB players to get back in the swing of things. Pitchers and catchers report to get their arms warmed back up and hitters get back into their groove. Other than the purpose of fine tuning players on the roster, spring training games are meaningless. For instance, the Toronto Blue Jays could probably care less that they were defeated 12-2 by the Minnesota Twins on Monday. One thing of significance did come out of that game, however, and that was in the sixth inning when Blue Jays manager John Gibbons became the first coach to challenge a play since the league made replay available for the 2014 season.
MLB announced in the offseason that they would expand the use of instant replay for the 2014 season for certain plays. These plays include: home run calls, ground rule doubles, fan interference, force plays, stadium boundary plays, tag plays, fair/foul in the outfield, trap plays in the outfield, hit by pitches, timing plays (whether a runner scores before the third out), touching a base and passing runners. Each coach will be given one challenge per game, and if they use it and are correct they will be rewarded with another.
The play in the Jays-Twins game was an out/safe call at first base in which Blue Jays shortstop Munenori Kawasaki fielded a routine ground ball but delivered the throw a little high, which forced the first baseman Jared Goedert to jump to make the catch. It appeared that he had landed on the bag before the runner, but the umpire called him safe. Gibbons immediately came out of the dugout and requested a challenge, which the umpire obliged to. After an over two-minute review, the umpire stood by his call.
While this was only a spring training game, history was made in the process. It will be interesting to see how the use of instant replay will affect MLB games this season.