BRADENTON, Fla. — There was no umpire behind the plate calling balls and strikes, or even one of those so-called robo umps that could become part of the game in the future, when the Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates kept playing Tuesday.
Umpires left the field after Baltimore’s Josh Lester grounded out to end the top of the ninth inning with the Orioles trailing 7-4, officially ending the spring training contest.
But the teams went ahead and played the bottom of the ninth inning after Pirates manager Derek Shelton and Baltimore skipper Brandon Hyde had a quick discussion.
The Orioles wanted to get some work on the mound for right-hander Ofreidy Gómez. Teams occasionally agree to shorten or lengthen spring training games depending on needs.
With the umpires gone, the balls and strikes were called by the catcher, just like is done in so many backyard games. Maverick Handley, a non-roster invitee who has never played about the Double-A level, was behind the plate for the Orioles.
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