A/V Room: First encounter with challenges favors White Sox

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Plus: Micah Johnson sets a high bar for the year's best catch before Opening Day (which Chris Sale will start), and other White Sox news

The White Sox's first-ever game played with expanded instant replay indeed featured a challenge. Home plate umpire Scott Barry made sure of it.

When Ron Roenicke came out to confirm Barry's call on Jared Mitchell's slide into home, it didn't seem like he had much to argue. Mitchell slid in ahead of Lucas May's tag at first glance, and he took a direct line to the plate, so Roenicke's beef seemed a little bit contrived.

It turns out it was totally contrived, but for a cause:

Roenicke did not doubt that Jared Mitchell slid ahead of the tag on Jeff Keppinger's ground ball to third that put the White Sox ahead by a run. Rather, the skipper was simply granting a request from home plate umpire Scott Barry, who hadn't yet worked a Spring Training game where the replay system was in use.

"That umpire hadn't done replay yet," Roenicke said of Barry. "He goes, 'Will you challenge it? Because I haven't done it yet.'" [...]

Roenicke, who including Monday's game has challenged calls four times this spring, was happy to oblige.

"That's good," Roenicke said. "Good for us and good for him."

Perhaps Barry was just trying to pad the umpires' success rate, although they don't need the help (15-for-15). That's kind of weak for a historical marker, but we still have a first challenge by a White Sox manager, and the first challenges that count in real games. Hopefully those will pack a bit more punch.

Star-divide

While we're looking at video, I would love to see what the new play-tracking system thinks of this Micah Johnson catch.

It's incredibly visually appealing, but there are few firm reference points for how great this play is. Johnson started running from a place to which we're not accustomed (the shortstop side of second) and ended up in short right field. He's also one of the fastest guys in the game, but we've barely been exposed to his speed during game situations.

It's possible that he made this play more difficult than necessary, or it could be even more amazing than it looks. This play will remain a mystery, but it won't be long before we know a lot more about what we just saw.

Text only

Cervelli doesn't quite fit the "long-term solution" Rick Hahn prioritized at the catcher position when it comes to his offense. The 28-year-old is a .271/.343/.367 lifetime hitter, but he only has partial seasons to his name, and he's a righty who struggles against righties. However, Cervelli is acclaimed for his pitch-framing and blocking, as I explained in this comment yesterday, so there is some potential for future value in the same way the Rays prioritized it by signing both Jose Molina and Ryan Hanigan this winter.

Then again, you can rearrange the letters of "Francisco Cervelli" to spell "Evil Cancer Frolics," so perhaps the Sox pursue him at their own peril.

And Mark Buehrle learned a lot from David Wells. Ergo, David Wells' White Sox career becomes more vital with every successive generation.

Conor Gillaspie was a busy man on Monday, turning two difficult plays to his backhand side. His defense has stood out thus far, more so because he's completing plays. During his defensive slump last year, he got his glove on his fair share of grounders, but he wasted the effort by screwing up the throw.

If you were concerned that he might be getting a dose of healthy confidence, you needn't worry!

"Believe it or not, the most uncomfortable plays for me are regular ground balls, quite honestly," Gillaspie said. "I’m comfortable going either direction or diving. I like those plays. Unfortunately a lot of the main plays you get are routine ground balls so I think if I can work on something that’s going to be what I stress this spring."

Steve DiMatteo catches up with the Gentleman Masher, and asks him about his place in the steroid era last 25 years.

"I don't feel slighted because I played in a time when all that was going on," Thome said. "There's always gonna be the question, 'Did this guy do it or did this guy do it?' I know what I did. I can look in the mirror. At the end of the day, the mirror doesn't lie."

And finally...

Viciedoheadline_medium

oh yeah prove it

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