Umpire admits bad call, Joe Girardi calls for more replay

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Umpire Jeff Nelson admitted after Sunday’s game that he botched the call at second base that aided the Tigers in a two-run eighth inning against the Yankees.

Omar Infante was attempting to return to the bag after rounding second on a single, but he was clearly tagged out by Robinson Cano on the play. Nelson called him safe.

“The hand did not get in before the tag, the call was incorrect,” he said. “I had the tag late and the hand going into the bag before the tag on the chest.”

It should have been the third out of the inning, but the Tigers went on to score two runs afterwards.

“Yeah, he was out by I would say five feet,” Cano said. “It is tough, because if it was the right call, it would be 1-0 instead of 3-0.”

Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who was ejected after arguing the call during a pitching change, dedicated a significant portion of his postgame press conference to stumping for replay.

“It’s frustrating,” he said. “I don’t have a problem with Jeff’s effort, I don’t, because he hustled to get to the play. But in this day and age when we have instant replay available to us, it’s got to change. These guys are under tremendous amounts of pressure.

“It is a tough call for him, because the tag is underneath and it’s hard for him to see. And it takes more time to argue and get upset than you get the call right. Too much is at stake. We play 235 days to get to this point, and two calls go against us. We lose it by one run last night.”

Girardi was referring to another poor call on a ball that Robinson Cano beat out in the Game 1 loss. Whether it would have made a difference or not, it definitely stings with the Yankees down two games to none as they head to Detroit for Tuesday’s Game 3.

Orioles sign Alcides Escobar

Alcides Escobar
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The Orioles have inked shortstop Alcides Escobar to a minor league contract, MLB.com’s Joe Trezza reported Saturday. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training and will allow Escobar to earn $700,000 in the majors if he breaks camp with the team (via Jon Heyman of MLB Network). The team has yet to formally announce the agreement.

Escobar, 32, completed an eight-year run with the Royals in 2018. No longer the .280-average, 3.0-fWAR player of seasons past, he hit several career lows after batting .231/.279/.313 with four home runs, eight stolen bases (in 10 chances), and a .593 OPS through 531 plate appearances last year. His defensive ratings also took a hit, and FanGraphs pegged him as the fourth-worst shortstop in the majors after he accumulated -12 DRS over the course of the season, only slightly higher than the Orioles/Dodgers’ Manny Machado, Mets’ Amed Rosario, and Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts.

Still, Heyman holds that Escobar is being considered for the starting gig this spring and could yet prove an upgrade over top prospects and infield candidates Richie Martin and Drew Jackson. At the very least, the veteran shortstop figures to stabilize the position given Martin and Jackson’s relative inexperience, as both infielders played to varying results in Double-A Tulsa last year and have yet to break into the majors. Should either player earn consideration for the position in camp, however, Escobar might still work his way onto the Opening Day roster in a utility role as he saw some time at third base, second base, and center field in 2018.