There was a little bit of history this afternoon, as MLB’s new expanded instant replay made its debut in a game between the Blue Jays and Twins.
We saw it in the bottom of the sixth inning after Twins outfielder Chris Rahl was called safe at first base when a throw from Blue Jays shortstop Munenori Kawasaki pulled Jared Goedert off the bag. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons challenged the call, which was eventually upheld. The whole process took an estimated two minutes and 34 seconds.
Check out the video below:
It should be said that this isn’t exactly how things will go during the season. In the Twins-Blue Jays game, there was a video truck outside the stadium with an umpire on duty to review calls. During the season, there will be a challenge umpire at the MLBAM office in New York.
Expanded instant replay was used again later in the very same game, but this time it was initiated by the umpires, which is allowed after the seventh inning under the new system. The original call, that Twins pinch-hitter Doug Bernier beat out a grounder for an infield hit, was also upheld. We also saw replay used this afternoon in a Cactus League game between the Angels and Diamondbacks. Angels manager Mike Scioscia challenged a call after Luis Jimenez was called out at second base after a botched hit-and-run play. However, the umpire’s original call was also confirmed. Paul Hagan of MLB.com reports that the wait was around two minutes and 31 seconds.
So far, so good.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.