KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Manager Bo Porter said prior to Saturday's game against the Yankees, which was the first of five scheduled Astros home games this spring to have instant replay available, that he couldn't wait to try to challenge a call. He wasn't joking.
With the game tied at 2, Porter challenged a call at first base in the second inning, claiming Yankees second baseman Eduardo Nunez hadn't touched first base before Jonathan Villar stepped on the bag. Villar was called out after putting down a sacrifice bunt. Porter almost immediately dashed onto the field after the play, and an umpire put on a headset and communicated with a person stationed in a production truck who was viewing the replay. The call was quickly upheld.
"We decided that this being the first game in which we actually had replay, it's a close call and you want to go out there and test the system," Porter said. "You look at the situation. It's bang-bang. It's either a man on second or one out or first and second and nobody out, which is a big difference."
The Astros have prepared all spring for the moment, treating every game as if replay reviews had been invoked even if they hadn't. That being said, Porter said you can't predetermine when you're going to challenge and when you're not going to challenge.
"I think it's all going to be situation-based, the inning, the score, who's at bat, the impact of whether or not it's something that will get overturned," he said prior to the game. "You spin yourself into the ground trying to go over the many scenarios that could take place and the impact of that particular play. This here is something we've never had before, so I think as we go throughout the progression of it, it's something you'll learn as you go along and not just from your challenges."
During each game in the regular season, the Astros will have a person monitoring a panel of HD video monitors in a room with the capability to see the plays from multiple angles and communicate with the bench coach. Video coordinator Jim Summers will handle the duties for most road games, and coordinator of baseball operations Pete Putila will handle most road games in the regular season.
"The fact that you have video footage, it would behoove you to allow your video people to look at it and give you their decision rather than you basing it on your two eyes at game speed," Porter said. "They're sitting there in front of the video, they can stop it and pause it and it takes a matter of seconds."
Meanwhile, Porter said the team plans to keep a "reel" of every play that was challenged in Major League Baseball this year.