Rays happy with instant replay results
Players and coaches feel technology is improving the game
ST. PETERSBURG -- Carlos Pena felt happy about the umpires getting his home run call right Friday night.
With two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning and the Rays leading, 6-0, Pena hit the first pitch from Twins right-hander Boof Bonser toward the right-field stands. A spectator could be seen reaching to catch the ball, which prompted first-base umpire Mike DiMuro to call fan interference and award Pena second base. After four minutes and 10 seconds, an instant replay review prompted the call to be overturned, and Pena had his 31st long ball of the season.
"You don't want to go home with doubt," Pena said. "And I was really calm at second base, knowing that whatever the call was going to be, it was going to be the right call because they have all the necessary tools to make the right call."
Over the years, Pena has lost home runs to wrong calls.
"A few, maybe two, or three," Pena said. "But sometimes it's hard to tell. There was one this year that I thought was a home run and it was kind of tough -- they called it a double. And you can't blame them, because it is tough to tell. But with this tool, hopefully we will be able to make the right call."
A lot can go through a player's mind while standing on second base and waiting for the call to be made.
"I was thinking about tomorrow and where I was going to eat," Pena said. "I was going through the entire rundown. Make sure you have your whole day planned out."
For the record, Pena will be eating Latin food.
"Rice and beans," he said.
"We saw two angles," crew chief Gerry Davis said. "The first one was inconclusive. The second one was the one that shot it."
Rays manager Joe Maddon felt good about the replay going the Rays' way.
"The fact that it took so long for [the umpires] to come back out, I thought it may have worked in our favor," Maddon said. "I thought if they walked in and the call had already been that it wasn't a home run, they would have seen it quickly and come back out and said, 'No home run.' Then I might have argued on where to place the runners, based on fan interference. I thought they got the call right, and the camera guys told me they got it right."
Given the fact that Tropicana Field became the site of the first instant replay review, and Friday night was the site of the first call overturned, Maddon was asked what was next for Tropicana Field and instant replay.
"It's there for that purpose," Maddon said. "I would think that the potential of playing playoff games in this ballpark may have generated the expediency of getting this into the mainstream. And it worked tonight. Obviously, we're very pleased about it."
Maddon applauded the umpires' acceptance of using replay and not having to put up a fight to get a play looked at.
"It's such a borderline play out there, and there's no reason to not go," Maddon said. "Because you go in there and if you obviously see someone reach over, it's relatively easy to see, and you come back out and say, 'No home run.' The mechanics of it seem to be working right now."
Rays slugger Cliff Floyd, who said he has lost three or four home runs to wrong calls over the years, thinks the use of instant replay is a progressive step for Major League Baseball.
"The best thing right now is that they're getting them right," Floyd said. "And as long as you're getting them right, everybody can relax. Everybody can feel good about it.
"I think it's good. I really do. It adds to Major League Baseball, deciding we need to get these things right. ... Right now, everybody's happy with it. The turnaround hasn't taken too long. And the calls have been right."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.