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Baseball might tweak replay challenge system to prevent managers from lingering on the field

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PHOENIX — Joe Torre was pleased with the first season of baseball's replay challenge system, even if teams were not always sure what could be reviewed.

What the Major League Baseball executive vice president could have done without was all the on-field lingering by managers.

A successful first season in the books, MLB might look at tweaking replay challenges to prevent managers from stalling in the middle of the diamond while someone on the bench signals whether a call should be contested.

"When we first talked about challenges, if you got out of the dugout you couldn't challenge, but I didn't want to take away from the fact that the manager could run out there and argue," Torre said Wednesday at the general managers' meetings.

"I didn't really plan on them meandering out there and having a conversation, but you live and you learn," the Hall of Fame manager said.

MLB instituted a new replay system allowing a manager one challenge per game, another if that one is successful. Reviewable plays covered everything from force and tag plays to fan interference and home runs.

Though the new system was occasionally criticized for making long games even longer, most managers and players were pleased with the system — they just wanted the correct calls to be made.

But because a lot of the plays happen so quickly, managers would routinely go out to discuss a call on any close play to give their own video people time to run back the play. Some got carried away, lingering on the field, pretending to discuss the call with the umpires while awaiting word from the dugout whether to challenge the play or not.

Baseball is trying to cut down on the length of games, not add to them, so Torre said the rules committee has discussed ways to prevent that from happening.

"That's one area we'll do something differently," he said. "I'm not sure what that is, but certainly we will eliminate some of that standing around because 10 seconds is a long time in our game."

Length of games has been an issue in baseball for years and MLB is looking at way to speed up.

Baseball has been experimenting with pitch clocks in the Arizona Fall League, requiring hitters to stay in the batter's box and pitchers to throw their next pitch within 20 seconds.

Some players in the league have complained about feeling rushed, but the games have been quicker, so MLB will take a look at possibly implementing some elements of the pace-of-play measures.

"This has been, just from all the evidence we have from the fall league, a real positive as far as gathering information," Torre said. "And that's what we have to do in determining whether this will work."

Baseball may also tweak the blocking-the-plate rule. The measure seems to have cut down on collisions and injuries, but has led to confusion on exactly what's allowed.

Baseball clarified the rule late in the season, saying umpires should not call runners safe on a blocking call if the ball clearly beats them.

"Right now, we're going to discuss in the rules committee and, along with the players' association, see if we can make it a little clearer," Torre said.

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