The umps blow a would-be replay moment in the Cubs-Braves game

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Piniella argues.jpgI’ve noticed a lot of great camera work in the first two days of the baseball season. That ESPN matrix-vision thing they used to show the double-steal on Sunday night was pretty spiffy. That Mark Buehrle gem was covered from a zillion angles. Also captured really well?  Nate McLouth having the ball pop out of his glove as he made a diving non-catch on Marlon Byrd’s shot to center in the sixth inning of yesterday’s Braves-Cubs game. There was an umpire huddle, but despite the fact that 53,000 fans in the ballpark could see the non-catch on the jumbotron and millions of viewers at home could see the same thing, the original call — out — held up.

I don’t want Lou Piniella to be able to throw a beanbag out onto the field to challenge that, nor do the umpires or any right-thinking fans.  But how easy would it be to have umpire #5 — with his generously-sized tushy resting comfortably on an Aeron chair in front of a couple of TVs up in the press box — simply buzz the crew chief on his walkie-talkie, say “hey, I know it was easy for you to miss because it happened on the upstage side of McLouth’s body, but the ball squirted out,” and have the correct call made? It would have taken 11 seconds.

The umpires would get credit for making the right call. More importantly, the right call is made. Seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it?

J.D. Martinez tells teams he prefers an outfield role

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Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.

That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.

Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.