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New instant replay, home plate rules cause confusion for Dodgers vs. Angels

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A play at the plate in the first inning led to the implementation of one, but not both, of baseball's new rules in 2014.

Mike McGinnis

TEMPE -- Thursday was the first of five games for the Dodgers trying out Major League Baseball's new instant replay system, and upon further review confusion reigned supreme at Tempe Diablo Stadium against the Angels.

In the bottom of the first inning of Thursday's game, Mike Trout attempted to score on a drive that got past center fielder Yasiel Puig, but was thrown out at the plate. Halos manager Mike Scioscia immediately argued the call, which Dodgers starter Dan Haren, who pitched for Scioscia from 2010-2012, correctly predicted.

"When Trout touched third base, Scioscia was coming out of his chair to challenge it," Haren joked. "I knew he was going to do that."

After several minutes of arguing with the umpiring crew, crew chief Gerry Davis went to review the play. The out call was upheld.

Under the new replay rules, managers get one challenge in the first six innings, then from the seventh inning on every review must be initiated by the umpiring crew. However, the Dodgers later learned that Scioscia still retained his challenge, and that the review had to do with Rule 7.13, the new rule attempting to curtail home plate collisions.

"That was an umpire challenge because he questioned 7.13, which is blocking the plate," Davis said after the game.

Under Rule 7.13, no manager can challenge that call; the review has to be initiated by the umpire crew chief. But this is really the gray area of the new rules and systems, where managers can seemingly argue enough to try to convince the umpires to review something on their own.

"I thought the whole time that he was challenging whether he touched home before I tagged him or not," catcher A.J. Ellis said. "That was the debate, whether he could challenge both simultaneously or if he had to declare which part of the play he wanted to challenge."

The total time of the review was 72 seconds, but Scioscia spent several minutes before that pleading his case.

"The first thing we look at when there’s an umpire challenge is whether he’s blocking the plate or not, or if the runner deviates from his path trying to score," Davis said. "But once we go for that reason, we can review the whole play."

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was confused after the game.

"I think at first he challenged the tag, but wanted to look at the whole thing," Mattingly said. "But that's where it gets up in the air, because when we check a play you can't look at the whole thing, but [the umpires] can look at the whole play if they want, and you don't use a challenge."

Mattingly said there would be more clarification of the new rules in a scheduled meeting between umpires and managers on Sunday.

The next game the Dodgers will have with instant replay is Tuesday against the Royals in Surprise. Hopefully by then the system will offer no surprises to both teams.