With exhibition season starting today, Pirates to test replay rules

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BRADENTON, Fla. — The Pirates’ Grapefruit League opener against the New York Yankees today marks the start of a crash course for the team’s coaching staff.

Now that manager Clint Hurdle and his staff have seen Major League Baseball’s presentation on the procedures concerning expanded instant replay, they can begin to formulate their own guidelines.

“They walked us through it,” Hurdle said. “All the reviewable plays, the plays that aren’t reviewable, the definition, the process of how it will go on and take place on the field. Obviously we’ll be able to establish conversation now on the protocol that we’ll put into play, how we’re going to handle it.”

Spring Training Report: Clint Hurdle talks about rules change

Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle talks to the media from the Pirates' spring training camp in Bradenton, Fla. (Video by Peter Diana; 2/25/2014)

Hurdle joined representatives from the Tampa Bay Rays, Minnesota Twins, Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles Sunday in Port Charlotte, Fla., to hear a detailed presentation, complete with videos and explanations, on the new rules.

The Pirates have six televised games, four in Grapefruit League play and two against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, to experiment with challenging plays. Under the new rules, the home and visiting teams can have a club employee watch video feeds of close plays and quickly offer feedback to the managers.

“Both teams will have a guy in the same spot,” Hurdle said. “You’ll be able to get the information. It’s not any hidden, cryptic sign. You’ll have time to go out [and talk to the crew chief]. There will come a point in time whether you want to challenge, whether you want to go away.”

The field umpires will pass the challenge along to umpires in the replay command center at MLB Advanced Media headquarters in New York City. Those umpires will have access to several camera angles showing the play in question.

Today's game
Matchup: Pirates vs. New York Yankees, 1:05 p.m. today, Bradenton, Fla.
Radio: KDKA-FM (93.7).

The new rules call for standardized video feeds so that the club employee tasked with advising the coaching staff on whether to challenge has the same camera angles as his counterpart from the other team and the umpires who will rule on the play in New York City. No additional monitors or technology will be added to the dugout.

“Everybody’s going to have the same help,” Hurdle said. “You have a certain number of cameras available to you every game.”

Hurdle said the Pirates also will run internal practices and reviews of their challenge policies.

Almost every play on the field is now subject to video review, a drastic change from the previous system that allowed only for reviews of boundary calls involving home runs.

Previously, the umpires had discretion to review a controversial play. Now managers will have a challenge, similar to football coaches, and will verbally indicate to the umpires their desire to challenge the ruling on the field. If they challenge a play that is overturned, they receive one more challenge. If the play stands, they cannot challenge again.

“Still a couple things that are a work in progress, but the guidelines are laid out,” Hurdle said. “A lot of research has been done, a lot of effort has been put into it. Mindful of the fact that this is a historic opportunity for us to continue to improve our game, to maintain the integrity and the flow of the game, the pace of the game.”

Banged up

Travis Ishikawa, a non-roster invitee, left Tuesday’s intrasquad scrimmage because of tightness in his right leg, Hurdle said.

Robert Andino, another non-roster player, was a late scratch from the game. Hurdle said Andino had to deal with a personal matter.

Sanchez stands out

Backup catcher Tony Sanchez hit a double and a home run in the scrimmage, both of them to the opposite field.

“It’s something that he’s well aware of and I think he took a big step in the right direction, maturing as a hitter last year in [Class AAA],” Hurdle said.

Liriano, Volquez on tap

Francisco Liriano, the Pirates’ opening-day starter, will start the first spring game today against the Yankees at McKechnie Field. Ivan Nova will start for the Yankees.

Edinson Volquez, the presumptive fifth starter in the rotation, also is scheduled to pitch today.

Bill Brink: bbrink@post-gazette.com and Twitter @BrinkPG.

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