NEW YORK — After deciding close calls on the field since 1876, baseball opens a high-tech control room this weekend where the fates of batters, pitchers, runners and fielders will be decided by umpires up to 2,600 miles away in the building where the Oreo cookie was invented.
Starting with the Los Angeles Dodgers’ game at the San Diego Padres on Sunday night, the U.S. opener of the 2014 season, players, managers and fans will turn their attention to the ROC — the Replay Operations Center.
In a dimly lit room of just under 1,000 square feet in the Chelsea Market in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District, umpires and technicians will make the decisions that could decide games and championships.
More than $10 million has been spent wiring the 30 big league ballparks with Fiberlink cable that will transmit the images from at least 12 cameras at every site, and Major League Baseball says it will take just 400 milliseconds for each image to arrive at the command center.
Inside the sliding glass doors at the offices of Major League Baseball Advanced Media, the room has its own power supply in case of a blackout — with batteries as a second auxiliary — and a stand-alone heating, ventilation and air conditioning system that keeps the temperature at 72 degrees.
There are dozens of televisions, more than enough to make it resemble NASA’s Mission Control. Outside the room, next to a modernist black sofa, is a 55-inch NEC screen, with another just inside the entrance. Walk in, and there’s 65-inch Pentus TV to your left.
On each side are three stations, each to be staffed with a technician on the left and a major league umpire on the right. Three more “floater” stations stretch across the back well.
Every station has four 46-inch screens — three Planars for each pod, with a higher-quality Sony directly in front of each umpire’s seat. The umps will wear headsets and can push a button to speak with their colleagues at any stadium.
“I’ll see more games than the Fan Cave,” quipped Justin Klemm, a former minor league umpire who was hired last month as MLB’s director of instant replay.
D-backs send down top pitching prospect
SCOTTSDALE — The Arizona Diamondbacks have assigned top pitching prospect Archie Bradley to their minor league camp.
The hard-throwing 21-year-old right-hander will start the season with Triple-A Reno.
Bradley was competing for the fifth spot in the Arizona rotation, which apparently will go to right-hander Randall Delgado.
He was 2-1 with a 4.32 ERA in 8ª innings this spring. He struck out 10 and walked eight.
Bradley was a combined 14-5 with a 1.84 ERA with Class A Visalia and Double-A Mobile last season.
Marte agrees to 6-year, $31M deal with Pirates
BRADENTON, Fla. — Starling Marte wants to be part of what he hopes will be a long run of success for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Less than two years after his major league debut, the 25-year-old outfielder finalized a $31 million, six-year contract with the Pirates on Thursday.
Marte hit .280 with 12 homers, 35 RBIs and a team-high 41 steals last year, his first full season in the majors. When he made his big league debut at Houston on July 26, 2012, he led off the game with a first-pitch home run against Dallas Keuchel.
Orioles designated hitter Nelson Cruz left Thursday night’s game against Tampa Bay in the fourth inning after he was hit in the helmet by a pitch from Alex Cobb.
Cruz fell after being hit on the first pitch, but quickly got up. He immediately walked off the field after being attended to by team trainers.
The Mariners have signed right-handed starter Chris Young to a $1.25 million deal for the 2014 season in the hopes of solidifying the back end of the rotation.
The Astros have claimed outfielder Alex Presley off waivers from the Minnesota Twins.
Nationals right-hander Doug Fister left a minor league start after one inning Thursday with a strain of the latissimus dorsi muscle on the right side of his back and may be unable to take his first turn in the rotation on April 6.
The Twins have outrighted left-hander Scott Diamond and outfielder Chris Parmelee to Triple-A Rochester, ensuring that veteran Jason Bartlett will make the team.