It was Dry Run Day Sunday for Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price — his first opportunity to legitimately challenge an umpire’s call via modern technology.
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim televised the game so the chance was there for Price to practice asking the umpires to check the videotape to make sure they got a call right — or wrong.
Price spent early Sunday morning in his office, “Re-boning up on the methods to make sure I have it right,” he said.
“It’s a matter of us, and the umpires, learning the process,” he added. “You hope there is an opportunity to use it. This is spring training and you need to get acclimated to the process and you need to challenge early.”
Price’s challenge came in the bottom of the fifth when LA’s Hank Conger singled home a run. Conger took second on the throw home and appeared to be tagged out at second base by shortstop Ramon Santiago. Umpire Jim Reynolds called him safe. Price asked for a challenge, and after a 2-minute, 15-second delay, Price lost the challenge. Conger was ruled safe for the second time.
Managers have one challenge per game on which the umpires must have the play checked on video. But as Price says, “Even if you used your challenge and lose it, you can still go out and talk to the umpires to see if they are willing to still go to replay if there is a benefit.”
That didn’t happen. Price never returned to the field.
So a manager can force one replay and try to influence others, but the umpires only have to do it on the manager’s one challenge.
“You can ask them, ‘C’mon, let’s get the call right,’ and they can caucus and say, ‘We feel we got it right so there is no need for this play to be reviewed. It will be interesting to see the take the umpires have.”
Price was asked what his approach would be toward asking an umpire to review a call when he has used up his challenge — polite request or stomp on the ground, arm-waving harangue?
“The passion will be there if you are adamant that you want the play reviewed, hell or high water,” said Price. “You’re held hostage if you’ve already burned your challenge because you’ve lost your influence. You try to influence but in the end the umpires hold all the cards.
“So I guess it is diplomacy first and rant-and-rave second,” Price added.
Meanwhile, Johnny Cueto made his third start of the spring and it was noteworthy after he was sketchy in his previous start. He pitched four innings and gave up no runs, two hits, no walks and two strikeouts. Cueto threw 50 pitches, 32 for strikes.
One of the hits was a broken-bat single in the fourth inning by Albert Pujols and there was an interesting by-play during the at-bat.
Cueto was a major combatant in the infamous 2010 fight when Pujols was with the St. Louis Cardinals. On Sunday, Pujols yelled out at Cueto, “Too many breaking pitches. Throw me fastballs.” Said Cueto, “No, I can’t. I’m working.”
So Pujols shattered his bat on the breaking pitch to bloop his single to right.