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Gaston supports expanding instant replay

Gaston supports expanding instant replay

TORONTO -- Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston watched the replay. Cleveland's Jason Donald lunging forward in an effort to beat the throw to first base with two outs in the ninth inning. Umpire Jim Joyce quickly raising his arms, ruling the runner safe and costing Tigers pitcher Armando Galarrago a perfect game.

Gaston saw what everyone else saw, too. Donald was clearly out -- something Joyce admitted after Wednesday's missed call that came with historical implications. Did Gaston think Major League Baseball should have reversed the call? Toronto's manager chuckled at the question.

"I don't get $17 million a year," Gaston replied. "I'm not qualified to answer that. Leave that to the Commissioner."

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When it came to inquiries about instant replay, though, Gaston did not hesitate to answer on Friday. The Blue Jays' manager is in favor of expanding the use of instant replay in baseball and believes there are ways to implement a revamped system without adding too much time to games.

After Wednesday's debacle in Detroit, Commissioner Bud Selig indicated that he will examine the umpiring system and the expanded use of replay. Selig will discuss those issues with his Special Committee, which happens to include Blue Jays president and CEO Paul Beeston.

Currently, replay is only used to determine whether a batted ball is a home run. Gaston believes the system could be expanded to included "important things" such as plays late in games that decide wins and losses. Gaston suggested that the decision to use replay be left to the umpires as well.

"I think there's a way you can do it that's not going to take up too much time," Gaston said. "If there's a winning run that's crossing the plate and there's a discussion about whether he's safe or out, why not replay it real quick and get it right? Things like that. Things that change the game at that particular time.

"If you have a guy that you think is safe in the second inning or out at second base, I'm not saying that doesn't change the game, but it's not going to make you lose the game right then and there. I think you'd have to probably leave it at the discretion of the umpires.

"You do that now. You can go out and ask them, but that doesn't mean they're going to go do it. You still have to get permission from them, so they're still in control of that."

Blue Jays center fielder Vernon Wells, who serves as the team's union representative, said expanding the use of replay is a touchy issue. He noted that Major League Baseball took strides in adding the use of replay for home runs in certain situations, but was not sure how much further it should go.

"It's kind of a sensitive subject," Wells said. "This game has been built on human error -- good and bad -- and you kind of accept calls either way. I think from an umpire's standpoint, they try to get every call right. I understand the home runs -- fair or foul -- and I understand implementing that.

"But when you start getting into every play being second guessed it, one, slows the game down and, two, it kind of takes the trust factor out of the umpires. Everybody's going to make mistakes. You have to deal with them good and bad. I think if it is implemented, you definitely have to put a limit on it.

"That's the same thing they do in football -- you get a certain amount. Everything we're trying to do is to speed up the game and this would just slow it down. I think everybody wants all the calls to be made right, but it's not going to happen all the time."

Wells said he and the other players he discussed the matter with feel bad for Galarraga missing out on history. That said, the Jays center fielder was quick to add that he also felt bad for Joyce, though he did not believe reversing Wednesday's call would be appropriate.

"I think if you overturn one, then you've got to go back and overturn a bunch of things," Wells said. "It wouldn't be fair to everyone else to go back and change it. If you change one play in one game, you start a whole controversy on a bunch of different plays. Everything would be second guessed."

Gaston believes Wednesday's events were integral in opening the door for more discussion about the use of replay.

"Everything happens for a reason," Gaston said. "Maybe that might help [expanded replay] happen. Joyce is a good guy -- a good umpire. My heart goes out for him, too, and also goes out to the pitcher. I know [Joyce] is going through a lot.

"I know deep down inside he wished he would've got it right, but he saw what he saw. It just brings up more points for replay."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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