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Updated: August 15th, 2013 11:21pm
Notebook: Expanded replay step in the right direction, says Gardenhire

Notebook: Expanded replay step in the right direction, says Gardenhire

by Brandon Warne
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Thursday afternoon Major League Baseball unveiled a plan for expanded replay that is slated to go into effect for the 2014 season.

MLB owners will hold a formal vote in November, and if it passes, it will institute a challenge system which is at least somewhat similar to the one the NFL has in place. Managers would be afforded a single 'challenge' in the first six innings, which is retained/replenished with each successful appeal, and two more in the final third of the game.

Once a challenge is issued, the crew chief or home plate umpire will go to a communications center that is networked into league headquarters in New York, where another umpire will be stationed with a technician to make a determination on the play.

Not all plays would be reviewable. Balls and strikes certainly would not fall into a review category, and based on reactions from various Twins personnel, that will never be an option.

But that list hasn't yet been finalized. Plenty of things will have to be ironed out between now and then, but it sounds like a proposal that players, front office types and field managers can agree is a step in the right direction.

Minnesota Twins General Manager Terry Ryan serves on the MLB's rules committee, and as a result had plenty of insight to share.

"They spent a lot of time on it, and gave it a lot of thought," Ryan noted. "I'm sure they got a lot of opinions from umpires, managers, general managers, and the like."

Ryan added that he felt this would add plenty of expansion to the rules currently in place, and take care of a lot of the things that baseball-types feel have held the game back.

There certainly is some level of concern, however, to what it'll do to mounting game times.

"I think everybody is concerned that the game will take longer," Ryan said. "But I think conversely someone may say it takes 3-4-5 minutes for a manager to go get kicked out. I think the best thing is we're going to try. Let's try something; we've got the technology."

Manager Ron Gardenhire certainly seems to be in favor of some type of replay, though he does have his own ideas as to how it could be best executed.

"It saves a lot of arguments," Gardenhire said. "I've said all along they should have a guy up in the booth that has a replay sitting in front of him, and he signals yes or no. I've always thought that was the quickest way to do it. I know they say it's too expensive, but they have people watching umpires all around anyway, so why not give them a little monitor and have them make a decision quick rather than making them have to run off the field?"

But ultimately, Gardenhire conceded that it's a step in the right direction. It matters little, as these will be the marching orders if the vote holds up in the fall.

"I'm sure there are a lot of things to discuss, and I'm sure there's pros and cons to every one of them. I'll go with whatever they say. Whatever they decide, we'll work with it."

Injury updates

• Catcher Ryan Doumit (concussion) was administered his ImPACT tests Thursday, and appears ready to be activated from the seven-day concussion disabled list on Friday.

• Outfielder Darin Mastroianni (foot) was reinstated off the 60-day disabled list, and optioned to Triple-A Rochester. Mastroianni is 1 for his first 18 at Rochester (.056) so far. "He could use some at bats," Ryan said.

• Outfielder Aaron Hicks was placed on the seven-day disabled list with a heel issue. Mastroianni takes Hicks' spot on the active roster. Hicks hadn't played since Aug. 10 at Durham.

• Pitcher Nick Blackburn will have a meniscus issue surgically repaired by team doctor John Steubs on Friday, likely putting the right-hander's season in jeopardy.

Briefly

• A report surfaced in the New York Daily News Thursday that likely Twins offseason target pitcher Phil Hughes will consider signing as a reliever when he hits free agency after this season.

It shouldn't likely have to come to that, as a team like the Twins should still consider the sturdy right-hander as an upgrade in a future rotation. Hughes has always been an extreme flyball pitcher -- never more than this year's 29.2% groundball rate -- but it's not hard to see that he could benefit simply from moving out of the tight confines of Yankee Stadium into a more spacious park like Target Field.

Hughes has a 4.99 ERA on the season, but gets plenty of strikeouts (7.6 per 9 in both 2013 and his career), and his home/road splits this season are horrific (6.18 home ERA/3.67 road). A change of scenery would be good for the 27-year-old.

Mike Pelfrey entered Thursday's start with 108.1 innings pitched, nearly 100 more than the 19.2 he tossed prior to undergoing Tommy John surgery last season. Ryan said it's something the club will be monitoring down the stretch. "I think it's reasonable to assume so," Ryan noted regarding potential Pelfrey fatigue. Over his past three starts, Pelfrey had allowed 10 ER in 14 innings (6.43 ERA).

"He threw 19.2 innings last year, and is up over 100 now," Ryan said. "We're going to watch that." Pelfrey noted after his Thursday start that he'd skipped throwing a bullpen between starts as well.

Twins August ranks

Here's a quick peek at how some individual Twins players rank (in MLB) with their counterparts this month

* Justin Morneau - tied for first in most home runs (6), fourth in RBI (14), ninth in isolated power (.355)
* Oswaldo Arcia - second-highest strikeout rate (38.6%)
* Clete Thomas - sixth-highest strikeout rate (35.1%)
* Brian Dozier - ninth-highest WAR (0.9), highest WAR among 2B, tied for second-most 2B HR (3)
* Andrew Albers - lowest K/9 among qualified SP (2.1), third-lowest BB/9 (0.5), lowest BABIP (.113)
* Mike Pelfrey - second-highest BB/9 (5.8), ninth-highest xFIP (5.17)
* Jared Burton/Anthony Swarzak/Brian Duensing/Josh Roenicke - each among 45 relievers to not allow ER this month; Burton has a WHIP of 0.00

Catching up with friends

Here's a quick peek at how just a few former Twins are doing in their current homes.

* Denard Span - .262/.314/.359, 10/15 in SB, .299 wOBA, 1.4 fWAR
* Ben Revere - .305/.338/.352, 22/30 in SB, .306 wOBA, 0.9 fWAR (expected back in late September)
* Joe Nathan - 1.48 ERA, 9.3 K/9, 36/38 in saves
* J.J. Hardy - .256/.299/.443, 22 HR, .321 wOBA 2.8, fWAR
* Torii Hunter - .309/.339/.465, 13 HR, .348 wOBA, 1.8 fWAR
* Michael Cuddyer - .324/.388/.539, 17 HR, .399 wOBA, 1.8 fWAR
* Jason Kubel - .221/.294/.332, 5 HR, .276 wOBA, -1.5 fWAR
* Nick Punto - .262/.338/.339, .306 wOBA, 1.4 fWAR

Brandon Warne covers the Minnesota Twins for 1500ESPN.com. He has also contributed as a baseball analyst for Fangraphs.com and BaseballProspectus.com
Email Brandon | @Brandon_Warne
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