GLENDALE, Ariz. — With instant replay only 10 days away from implementation Robin Ventura is seeking as much clarification as possible.
On Friday that meant spending several minutes discussing the topic with Major League Baseball executive Tony La Russa, who had stopped by Camelback Ranch with former Indiana and Texas Tech basketball coach Bobby Knight.
After chatting with Knight for several minutes, Ventura talked to La Russa to cover the minute details of replay.
Ventura said Friday he had a good idea he would lose his only challenge of the spring last Saturday because the TV technology at spring training isn’t nearly as good as it will be during the regular season. But Ventura, opposing managers and umpires want to practice the process as much as possible before the March 31 opener.
“We were talking about it, just different things that have come up,” Ventura said.
“We’ve talked a couple of times about it. In the end it’s for everybody to get familiar with it and do it and it’s not necessarily if you win or lose it down here, it’s just understanding the process.”
Similar to the chart NFL coaches use for when to go for a two-point play, Ventura has a cheat sheet of when instant replay is applicable taped to the wall of the home dugout at Camelback Ranch. Though he feels comfortable with the process, Ventura is, like most everyone else, still sorting it out. He said the new rule would cause coaching staffs to watch the game different than they had in the past because they now have an avenue to challenge a call that they previously might have let go without an argument.
“There’s a certain way to think about it. It’s how important that play is, how obvious it is,” Ventura said. “You look at a lot of plays and now you look at it differently because during the season if your only thing was to go out and argue every time, you wouldn’t run out as many times because you’d wear people out. This, you actually have a chance to go out and get something changed if you really think the guy was safe and the guy was out. It’s different. You watch it a little differently than in the past because now you have to know.”
The White Sox have seen instant replay used twice in their games this season. The first was in the ninth inning on March 10 when plate umpire Chris Guccione requested Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke call for a replay on a play at the plate so Guccione could test the system — even though the play wasn’t close.
Ventura said he believed he might not win his challenge at second base on Saturday against Los Angeles but proceeded just to experience the process. Managers are given one challenge in the first six innings of a game and are granted another if they win their challenge. Replays are up to the crew chief from the seventh inning on.
Each team is supposed to have at least five practice games during the spring to get familiar with instant replay. The White Sox still have four left: Saturday, Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday.
“The umpires have been great,” Ventura said. “It’s new for them too. The communication, everybody doesn’t really know how it’s going to go because you don’t get as good of a view down here as you will during the season. So you know going out your chances of winning aren’t very good. But to go through the process and do it is more important right now.”