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Replay got its first test last night

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As we mentioned earlier, the Arizona Fall League is serving as a testing grounds for baseball’s new replay challenge system. Last night was the first game with the system in place. It went pretty well.

There were four challenges. None on controversial or even particularly close calls (managers have been encouraged to use it liberally for testing purposes). All of the challenges went smoothly. Baseball has imposed a three-minute time limit for challenges for the testing period and none of them came close.

So that’s good, I guess. This is less good:

Tuesday’s challenges were issued verbally, simple enough in front of a few hundred fans. When there are tens of thousands screaming, objects such as waved flags or tossed beanbags will be employed.

Salt River and Mesa players demonstratively enjoyed participating in the landmark game. In fact, they thought it was a hoot — loudly and emphatically urging for replays from their respective dugouts after every even remotely close play on the field.

Still waiting for some explanation of why a challenge system is the best or why it even makes sense if the goal is to get calls right rather than to create a silly distraction. Maybe the players urging challenges are jokes now, but wait until it’s games with major leaguers in high stress situations. Managers totally need that kind of pressure, right?

Leonys Martin feared for his life from alleged human traffickers

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 30: Leonys Martin #12 of the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 30, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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Leonys Martin, outfielder for the Seattle Mariners, testified yesterday that he feared for his life after he was smuggled from Cuba by a group of men prosecutors say worked for a sports agent and a baseball trainer currently on trial for human trafficking in Miami.

Martin took the stand at the trial of Bartolo Hernandez and Julio Estrada, who face felony charges. He said that, after getting to Mexico from Cuba, men threatened to take him away. There was a kidnapping attempt against one of the men who had taken him from Cuba as well. Martin said that, eventually, he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border into Texas without any valid papers because his life was in danger and his safety was at risk.

Players like Martin who fled Cuba often hole up in Mexico while waiting to be declared free agents by Major League Baseball. There is pitched competition to sign agreements with the players in question, seeking to obtain promises of a cut of future baseball earnings for their services. Those promises can come under the threat of violence. Eventually, Martin promised to pay Hernandez and Estrada, but ceased paying them later, fomenting a lawsuit from them. In the wake of the suit, the allegations of threats and smuggling arose, leading to this trial.

Martin has been late to Mariners camp as a result of having to testify. He’ll likely report in the next day or so. The trial continues.

Josh Hamilton leaves camp with a tweaked knee

SURPRISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 28:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers poses during a spring training photo shoot on February 28, 2016 in Surprise, Arizona.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Josh Hamilton was already a long shot to make the Texas Rangers roster, but his shot got even longer today, as he left camp to have his reconstructed left knee examined after experiencing pain.

As Jeff Wilson reports, Hamilton felt discomfort in the knee during the Rangers’ first full-squad spring training workout yesterday. Hamilton has had 10 knee operations in career. Which is a lot of knee operations in case you were unaware.

You have to wish good luck to Hamilton, but at the same time you have to be realistic. The guy has not played in the major leagues since 2015 and even then he didn’t play well, hitting .253 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs in 50 games. He appeared in one game last year for Double-A Frisco, on April 30. He’ll be paid $24 million this year, mostly by the Angels. One suspects that this will likewise be his last spring training.