Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred and the umpires' union don't appear to be on the same page when it comes to using a computerized strike zone during spring training.
Manfred confirmed Wednesday that a camera-based system will be used during spring training to help call balls and strikes. However, the umpires' union felt the need to clarify the commissioner's comments.
"Reports that MLB will use 'robo-umps' to call balls and strikes in spring training games this year are completely inaccurate," the union said in a statement later that day acquired by Buster Olney of ESPN. "... Our understanding is that a camera-based tracking system will be running in the background during some spring training games for technology development and training purposes.
"But any game in which a Major League Baseball umpire is working will have a human calling balls and strikes."
An MLB official confirmed this, according to Olney.
The union also stated that it agreed the league could use the new technology with certain stipulations after the two sides reached a tentative five-year labor agreement last month.
"To achieve this new contract with the owners, however, we agreed that MLB can use (the electronic strike zone), if important conditions are met, and after a process through which umpires will have direct input into when and how the technology enters major-league games, including spring training games," the statement read. "We believe our involvement will be crucial to preserving fair play if the owners are determined to introduce this fundamental change.
"We bargained hard for these protections, and the process we negotiated has not even started. Use of ... technology in spring training games this year would be premature and would violate our new agreement. We have received absolutely no word from the Office of the Commissioner that MLB intends to do that."
MLB tested a computerized strike zone - with mixed reviews - in the independent Atlantic League and Arizona Fall League last year.