PITTSBURGH – In the moment, Rick Renteria didn’t realize he made history when he became the first manager to challenge a play under the new expanded replay system.
The Cubs manager found that out after losing the game – and the challenge – on Opening Day.
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“It’s going to be an organic work in progress for everybody, getting to know it and getting a feel for its usage,” Renteria said.
The Cubs needed it to score their first run this season, getting a call overturned in the eighth inning of a 4-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates that stretched 16 innings, from Wednesday night into Thursday morning at PNC Park.
With the bases loaded, Nate Schierholtz grounded to second, beginning an apparent inning-ending 4-6-3 double play. The review lasted two minutes and 24 seconds. The video showed shortstop Jordy Mercer had been moved off the bag on a wide throw from Neil Walker.
Instant replay will become another way for Cubs fans and the Chicago media to second-guess Renteria, who’s open to the changes.
“If it helps us clean up some plays, I think it’s helpful,” Renteria said. “I still think umpires do a great job. They have a tough job to do and they don’t want to screw it up. They want to get the calls right.
“I know sometimes we’re emotionally vested in everything and they’re emotionally vested in doing a good job. We both have to grow a little bit of thicker skin and deal with each other the best way we possibly can.”
President of baseball operations Theo Epstein said Monday’s 1-0 walk-off loss would become the first time the Cubs were able to access the 12-camera feed that’s now standard in major-league ballparks.
Epstein said the Cubs developed a system in spring training, but only had a few games to get a feel for the actual equipment, the computers and software used in the clubhouse.
“The one thing I learned from watching it this spring is that the umpires are pretty darn good,” Epstein said. “A lot of those close calls they get right. So I don’t think we’re going to see too many calls overturned. The ones that are overturned – it’s just in the best interests of the game to get the calls right.
“I’m sure we’ll have some go our way and some go against us. But for the fans sitting in the seats and the players competing, even more calls are going to be correct, and that’s a good thing for the game.”