Pirates notebook: Replay could catch players in a trap

Pirates right fielder Travis Snider makes a diving catch during the fifth inning against the Cardinals on Wednesday, April 17, 2013, at PNC Park.
Pirates right fielder Travis Snider makes a diving catch during the fifth inning against the Cardinals on Wednesday, April 17, 2013, at PNC Park.
Photo by Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Rob Biertempfel
| Thursday, May 16, 2013, 7:45 p.m.

It's long enough after the fact now that Travis Snider can admit he didn't really catch that blooper a couple of seasons ago at Triple-A Las Vegas. Snider made a diving attempt in center field, but the ball hit the ground and hopped into his mitt.

“I sold it and got the call,” Snider said. “I've had a few like that throughout my career, but I can't think of too many at the major league level.”

Soon, selling a trap as a bona fide catch could become a lost art. At the owners meetings Thursday, Major League Baseball inched closer to expanding the use of instant replay to include traps, fair/foul calls and plays at bases. MLB also is considering putting a replay official in the booth at every game.

“The more angles they can get and having somebody in the booth to speed up the process, I think it will take some pressure off the on-field (umpires),” Snider said. “I think it can have some benefit for the players and the umpires.”

It certainly will make players think twice before trying to sell a near-miss as a catch.

“You won't be able to get away with as much,” Garrett Jones said. “The more cameras we have, it's going to turn into a very honest game.”

The downside is it might also turn into a much longer game.

“You want to get the call right,” Jones said. “But it might slow down the game, constantly replaying every close play. Human error is always going to be there in this game, so it's hard for me to say one way is better.”

Jones has had two calls on balls he hit this season changed to home runs after replay reviews.

Morton back on track

Right-hander Charlie Morton (elbow surgery) threw four innings (61 pitches) in a rehab start Thursday with Double-A Altoona. Morton allowed two runs on two hits (both solo homers), walked one and struck out one.

“A little rough around the edges, but it was his first time back” after a shoulder setback, manager Clint Hurdle said. “His velocity was 90 to 96 mph, threw some breaking balls and changeups. All in all, it was a good effort.”

Hurdle said Morton will make three more rehab outings before he comes off the disabled list. Morton's next start will come with Triple-A Indianapolis.

Right-hander Jeanmar Gomez, who will make his fourth fill-in start Friday, will go back to a long-relief role when Morton returns.

Righty Jeff Karstens (shoulder) is slated to throw four innings/65 pitches Saturday for Altoona.

Free 90s

Through Wednesday, the Pirates had 22 stolen bases, sixth most in the National League. They finished the 2012 season last in the NL with 73 steals.

Nearly all of the Pirates' production has come from Starling Marte (10 steals) and Andrew McCutchen (nine). Jones, Russell Martin and Jose Tabata each have one.

“Marte and Cutch can be combustible,” Hurdle said. “But we've got some other guys who can sneak some (stolen) bases. The number isn't important; the percentage is. I'd like to see a bigger number.”

This year, the Pirates have a 76 percent success rate, tied for fifth best in the league. They were last with a 58 percent rate last season.

Minor matters

Infielder Chase d'Arnaud (thumb surgery) began his rehab assignment Thursday with High-A Bradenton. ... After a 14-7 victory Wednesday against Buffalo, Triple-A Indianapolis (29-12) had the most wins in all of the minor leagues.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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