MLB, union, umps meet Sunday

Updated: March 7, 2011, 11:01 AM ET
By Amy K. Nelson | ESPN.com

Representatives of Major League Baseball, the players' association and the World Umpires Association executive board met for about 2½ hours Sunday in Fort Myers, Fla., to discuss issues of "mutual concern", MLB executive vice president Rob Manfred said.

Nine umpires, as well as former players such as Bobby Bonilla, Tony Clark and Rick Helling were at the meeting. Joe Torre, Frank Robinson and Manfred were part of the contingent representing the commissioner's office.

"It was a conversation about on-field issues of mutual concern. It was an effort to make sure everybody understands what everybody is thinking about," Manfred said.

"There were some things we talked about that I think will result in concrete steps," said Manfred, who wouldn't go into particulars of the topics discussed.

MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner called the meeting a "healthy and productive exchange by all parties on a range of on-field issues and a range of issues of common concern."

Neither Manfred nor Weiner would confirm or deny if instant replay was discussed at the meeting.

"You can draw any conclusions you want by [me] saying it was healthy and productive as to whether there is anything further to be done," Weiner said when asked specifically if replay was talked about.

There were some things we talked about that I think will result in concrete steps.

-- Rob Manfred

The players and umpires had been scheduled to meet at the Winter Meetings in December, but a family death for one of the principals involved led to the postponement of that get-together.

The idea was sparked by the Major League Baseball Players Association after it received an increased number of complaints from players last season about umpires.

Last season, multiple players told ESPN.com's Amy K. Nelson that tensions had increased with umpires. They also are concerned about a lack of transparency when umpires are evaluated.

"We never know why or when they are fined, or reprimanded or held accountable," Oakland Athletics reliever and player union representative Brad Ziegler told ESPN.com last October. "Anytime a player is punished, suspended or sent down to the minors, the public knows about it. It would be a lot easier to communicate with umpires if everyone was held to similar standards. Our statistics as players are a lot more quantifiable than the umpires'."

Increased attention on umpires has been a byproduct of recent high-profile mistakes and the advent of high-definition television, at-home replays and advances in technology within stadiums. During the 2010 postseason, calls were isolated by players, the media and announcers as being problematic. Calls for a change in instant-replay policy have been renewed.

Amy K. Nelson is a staff writer for ESPN.com.. ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney and ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes contributed to this report.

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