Morning after: Upon no review, ump knew he was wrong during Rays 3-2 loss
By ROGER MOONEY
Times Staff Writer
ST. PETERSBURG – It didn’t take a replay review Monday to prove second base umpire Hunter Wendeltstedt made the wrong call. Wendelstedt knew he blew the call and reversed it himself.
“That was new to me,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said, “but a lot of things are new to me sometimes.”
The play occurred in the third inning when Angels rookie Nolan Fontana, making his major league debut, tried to slide past the tag of Rays second baseman Michael Martinez.
Wendeltstedt immediately made he safe signal.
Martinez waved to the dugout for Cash to use his replay challenge, which Cash did.
Wednelstedt and crew chief Joe West huddled, walked off the field as if they were going to the headsets, huddled some more and called Fontana out.
So, without using replay, Wendelstedt changed his safe call to out, which was the correct call based on the replays shown on TV and the Tropicana Field video board.
The reason: Wendelstedt knew his call was wrong.
“After consulting with me, (Wendelstedt) said ‘I want to change it myself. I think I erred. I think I called it too quick. I don’t want to go to replay.’ I said, ‘Okay, it’s your call.’ So he changed it,” West told a pool reporter after the game.
Said Wendelstedt: “When you’re an umpire you have to be honest with yourself. I committed one of the two errors that normally result in missing a play. You have good positioning, which I had, and good timing. Most of the time you’re going to get them most of the time right. I had really bad timing. And as soon as my hands went out (indicating the runner was safe), I knew that I’d missed it.”
As the two umpires huddled, Angels manager Mike Scioscia received word from his video coordinator that Martinez tagged Fontana’s hand before it reached the base. Still, Scioscia went out to talk with West after the reversal.
“He was out, but I've never seen an umpire get together and overrule something before a replay,” Scioscia said. “I just wanted to know what the parameters were. They had a crew review and changed the call. That was it.”
West said the umpires can huddle and change a call without going to replay.
“We can correct what we deem as an error,” West said, “and we did.”
An interesting sidebar to the turn of events: Fontana was recalled from Triple A Salt Lake earlier Monday. He played second base and batted ninth. He had reached on a fielder’s choice during his first big league at-bat.
Fontana went to West Orange High in Winter Garden, Fla., and played collegiately at Florida, earning second-team All-SEC honors in each of his three seasons.
Born in Richardson, Texas., He is named after hall of fame pitcher and noted Texas native Nolan Ryan.
Fontana’s grandfather is the late Lew Burdette, who pitched in the majors for 18 years and was the MVP of 1957 World Series for the Milwaukee Braves after beating the Yankees three times. All three were complete games. The last two were shutouts, including Game 7 at Yankee Stadium.
Burdett, who won 203 games, finished his career in Anaheim pitching for the California Angels.