GMs discuss replay, roster moves
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- In between trade talks and early negotiations with free agents, baseball general managers considered some wide-ranging changes that include broader use of instant replay by umpires, changed roster limits for September and protective headgear for pitchers.
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"He was talking about really basically fair-foul, trap plays. But we're looking into more than that," said Joe Torre, MLB's executive vice president for baseball operations.
Torre did not detail what types of calls a broader expansion might include.
During tests late this year at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, MLB experimented with the Hawk-Eye animation system that is used to judge line calls in tennis and the TrackMan radar software used by the PGA Tour.
"We still have some questions on the way it is now, if that's going to fit with baseball," Torre said. "I'm not saying it can't be adjusted or they can do something that would make it work for our game."
Depending on what baseball decides, changes might have to be negotiated with the umpires' and players' unions.
GMs also discussed altering the longtime rule allowing active rosters to expand from 25 to 40 from Sept. 1 through the rest of the regular season. Some teams have been reluctant to use the larger limit late in the season. They have cited not wanting to disrupt minor league teams in their playoffs, and those decisions have led to big league games in which teams have differing numbers of available players.
"Each team should have equal number of players available every day," Torre said. "I just think you play the whole season with one set of rules and the most important time of the year, especially for clubs that are in a pennant race, I just don't think it's fair for it to be done (with a) different number of roster people."
Torre said one possibility would be setting a fixed number of players who must be on the active roster for September games.
Baseball general managers considered some wide-ranging changes that include broader use of instant replay by umpires, changed roster limits for September and protective headgear for pitchers.
"We've talked about 28. We've talked about 30," he said. "It was talked about at length today."
The players' union would have to approve the change.
"This was a subject in bargaining in 2011, but no agreement was reached," union head Michael Weiner said. "If MLB has a midterm proposal to make, we will consider it. This clearly is a mandatory subject."
GMs also went over ways to protect pitchers from injuries after two were hit on the head by line drives late in the season. MLB staff have said a cap liner with Kevlar, the high-impact material used by military, law enforcement and NFL players for body armor, is among the ideas under consideration.
"If we settle on something that is going to make sense, and obviously the pitcher has to be comfortable with it, we'll obviously put that in as soon as possible," Torre explained.
Oakland's Brandon McCarthy was hit on the head by a line drive in September, causing a skull fracture and brain contusion that required surgery. Detroit's Doug Fister was hit on the head by a liner off the bat of San Francisco's Gregor Blanco during the World Series. Fister was unhurt and stayed in the game.
MLB medical director Dr. Gary Green is to give a report at next month's winter meetings in Nashville, Tenn. MLB senior vice president Dan Halem has said protective headgear for pitchers could be in place in the minor leagues for next season.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.