Video replay popular topic with O's, too

The Baltimore Sun

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Though the Orioles aren't ready to embrace the idea of Major League Baseball using instant replay later this year, they can see it might prove beneficial in certain instances.

Being on the wrong end of a close call tends to adjust a player's perception.

However, replay wouldn't have allowed Friday night's controversy to swing in the Orioles' favor. According to an report last week, baseball is tentatively planning on experimenting with replay in Arizona Fall League games on disputed home run calls - not to determine whether a ball hit down the line is fair or foul. So Aubrey Huff's sharp grounder that, in the opinion of first base umpire Ed Hickox, didn't skip over the bag in the eighth inning of a one-run game couldn't have been reviewed.

"You guys want to talk about replay? There's a classic case right there," Huff said. "It wasn't even close."

Huff requested that plate umpire Ed Rapuano overturn the hotly contested call, but he was denied.

"He just told me he couldn't," Huff said. "I don't know why, but that's all he told me."

For reliever Jamie Walker, it's another example of human error that should remain part of the game.

"The way I look at it is, they're going to make mistakes," Walker said. "We're all going to make mistakes. But let the umps make the call."

Like most players, Walker sees a conflict between MLB using instant replay and trying to speed up the games.

"They're too long anyway, and it's not all to do with the games," he said. "You've got TV rights, and we can't start innings sometimes because of it, and guys are taking their time getting in there. And the stadiums, they're trying to get as many seats in there as they can. There should be a clearance for home runs and the fence. People shouldn't be able to lean over. That's what they need to be concentrating on and keep that video stuff for football."

Bringing replay to baseball became a hot subject again after umpires incorrectly ruled that a ball hit by the New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez in Wednesday's game against the Orioles struck the fence and bounced back onto the field for a double. Rodriguez should have been awarded his second home run of the night.

"The game was 7-0, 8-0, and he's [complaining] about it, and I understand. If it's a home run, it's a home run," Walker said. "But I think it's the stupidest thing I've ever heard of.

"If it didn't happen up at Yankee Stadium, it wouldn't be this big a deal. Let's concentrate on testing for drugs and speeding up the games."

Markakis, others sit

In an attempt to shake his team out of a slump that had led to three shutouts in 10 games before last night, and only one run scored in 28 innings, Orioles manager Dave Trembley rested leadoff hitter Brian Roberts, No. 3 hitter Nick Markakis and catcher Ramon Hernandez. Freddie Bynum moved to the top of the order, and Huff batted in Markakis' usual spot.

Roberts, Markakis and Hernandez sat for the entirety of the Orioles' 11-4 loss last night. Roberts has one hit in his past 16 at-bats. Markakis has just seven hits in his past 41 at-bats with 17 strikeouts. Hernandez is batting .209 with a .245 on-base percentage and .333 slugging percentage. He also had a mental lapse Friday night that enabled Carl Crawford to take second base.

"He's just trying to give me a day off," Markakis said. "There's nothing more than that. It's his decision. I'm OK. I'm perfectly fine. It gives me time to just relax, watch and take it in.

"It's just baseball. You know you're going to go through your struggles, and you're going to have your good times. Hopefully, in the long run, it evens itself out."

F. Cabrera throws

Reliever Fernando Cabrera threw a bullpen session and said he's ready to go on an injury rehabilitation assignment.

Cabrera appeared in nine games with the Orioles last season after signing in August, allowing 12 hits and 14 runs, with nine walks, in 10 innings. He underwent surgery over the winter to remove bone chips from his elbow and recently has pitched at extended spring training.

"My arm feels good," he said. "I've been working on some stuff. I'm ready."

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