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AROUND THE MAJORS

Umpires Upset Over Directive

April 28, 1999| From Associated Press

Arguments between managers and umpires and players and umpires are nothing new to baseball. Now, it's the league office the men in blue have a problem with.

Major league umpires are angry over baseball's new directive asking teams to chart pitches and file a report about strike zones.

"It's nonsensical when you look at it," Richie Phillips, head of the umpires' union, told the New York Post. "It's juvenile. It's just another case of Big Brother watching over us."

The umpires perceive the directive as an attempt to undermine their authority, the newspaper said Tuesday.

"I don't think the commissioner's office has the right to unilaterally impose an evaluation system on umpires," Pat Campbell, associate counsel for the major league umpires told the Associated Press. "They have to negotiate with us first.

"They're using club personnel to do this. That seems very ineffective to me."

Sandy Alderson, executive vice president of the Office of the Commissioner, sent a letter to all teams earlier this month, asking that a high-ranking front-office official chart pitches, then file a report at the end of each homestand.

Alderson's memo said the directive's "purpose is to stay on top of trends and provide as much feedback as possible to the league presidents and umpire supervisors."

In a Feb. 19 memo, Alderson told the umpires to raise the top of the strike zone to two inches above the top of the uniform pants--still below the definition called for in the official playing rules: the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants.

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Houston shortstop Ricky Gutierrez will miss at least four weeks because of a broken left hand he got after being hit by a pitch in the Astros' 11-0 victory over Arizona on Tuesday night.

Gutierrez was hit by a pitch from Armando Reynoso during the Astros' six-run fourth inning.

Gutierrez was batting .357 when he was hurt. Backup Tim Bogar will take his place.

"We need Ricky," second baseman Craig Biggio said. "Now we're going to be without him for a while."

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The Seattle Mariners acquired former Dodger infielder Rafael Bournigal from Texas for cash considerations, and he will report to triple-A Tacoma.

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Chicago Cub right-hander Kurt Miller was activated from the disabled list before the Cubs' game with Florida. Right-hander Matt Karchner was placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Monday with a strained right groin. Karchner is the sixth Cub pitcher to go on the disabled list.

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Florida rookie third baseman Mike Lowell, who has yet to play this season after surgery for testicular cancer, took batting practice and will work out with the Marlins during the rest of their homestand. There's no timetable for his return, which has been delayed by soreness in his throwing shoulder.

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