MESA, Ariz. — A’s manager Bob Melvin doesn’t foresee a problem with the rule modifications Major League Baseball announced Thursday regarding instant replay, including a 30-second limit on the time in which a manager must decide whether to challenge a call.
“It looks like that’s an issue for managers but it’s not,” Melvin said. “It’s an issue for the video guys, because they’re the ones that report back to us.”
Every team has a person stationed in the clubhouse responsible for examining borderline plays where replay could be an option. That person must quickly communicate to the dugout whether it’s worth challenging a play, and then the manager signals the umpires.
Adam Rhoden, the A’s video coordinator, handles those duties for the A’s. Melvin said the number of replay angles available factors into how quickly a team makes the call on whether to challenge.
“Sometimes the issue is when you get the slow mo, and sometimes there’s more angles than others depending on who’s (broadcasting) the game. As of right now, I don’t see that being a problem. But we’ll see how it goes.”
MLB also is putting a flexible two-minute limit on the time a decision must be handed down by replay officials, although there will be some exceptions to that rule that have yet to be announced.
The A’s aren’t known as a team that runs the bases with abandon, but Melvin said pretty much every player has a green light to steal during the spring. He wants players to gain an awareness for how aggressive they can be on the bases without running carelessly into outs.
“You’ll probably see our percentage in the spring (of getting caught) be a little higher,” he said. “We want our guys to find out how far they can go and have some awareness. I want everybody to have an awareness of what they can do. If you give someone a green light who hasn’t had it before, all of a sudden he has an awareness. ‘Is this guy paying attention to me? Is he slower to the plate?’ “I want guys to be aggressive and know what they can do, so you might see a few more guys thrown out in the spring than what we like as a percentage in the regular season.”
The A’s are 2-for-5 in stolen base attempts so far through five games. Rajai Davis is 2-for-2, Franklin Barreto is 0-for-2 and Kenny Wilson is 0-for-1.
Asked about Barreto specifically, Melvin said he thinks the middle infielder has a chance to be a good base stealer in the majors.
“Now, it doesn’t mean you just run” with a green light in the spring, the manager said. “It means you run when you feel like the opportunity is there.”
In the bullpen, Ryan Madson and John Axford will make their Cactus League debuts Thursday afternoon against the Texas Rangers at Hohokam Stadium. Highly touted prospect Frankie Montas also is scheduled for his first appearance.
Sean Doolittle will throw a bullpen session as he gets closer to his first outing.
Still no word from the A’s on when reliever Santiago Casilla will be cleared to report from the Dominican Republic.
Outfielder Jake Smolinski (sore right shoulder) is feeling a bit better and will hit in the cage Thursday, Melvin said.