Umpires get spring training to hone officiating skills
By Karen Boehler
Pecos League writer
LAS VEGAS — Pecos League players and managers weren’t the only athletes at spring training Tuesday in Las Vegas.
While the managers evaluated their players, and the players did the best they could to make sure they’d stay on the rosters, the eight Pecos League umpires were also at Brandt Field at New Mexico Highlands, honing their skills in preparation for the 2013 season.
“We brought the umpires out here to let them see some games before our season starts, and evaluate them; let them know what they need to work on as well,” said head umpire David Crawford.
Crawford leads a crew that includes Harold Moya, Eric Lujan and Richard Salazar, from Santa Fe; Shawn Mowdy, Ruidoso; and Luis Biardo and Jeff Barela. Pecos League commissioner Andrew Dunn promises the officiating will be “much improved” in 2013, and Crawford said that’s the reason for the extra training.
“That’s the whole purpose. Getting guys out here. Seeing them. Giving them some advanced mechanics. Let them know what they need to work on. Stuff they need to look for at this level of baseball. And going from there.”
Each of the umpires had a chance to see time behind the plate or in the field during the three games Tuesday, then, much as the players were critiqued by their managers, Crawford critiqued his crews.
Huddled together behind the temporary backstop where he watched the calls, Crawford gave advice on everything from calls they’d made to how to interpret rules to what color uniforms to buy to how to handle unhappy players and coaches.
And even though the games meant very little in the scheme of things, the players still showed they didn’t always agree with the calls — after one contested call, one manager told his players to remember that it was spring training, and they needed to keep the umpires on their side. Crawford said that’s expected.
“I think the players are doing OK,” he said. “Baseball is baseball. It’s always going to be baseball, so the players are always going to have their own opinions as opposed to umpires. That’s just part of the game. So going from that, yeah. I’m looking forward to having a good season with all these guys.”
As well as with his crew, who Crawford agrees are a step up from last year.
“I’m pleased with the umpires that are going to be working this league as opposed to last year and all the problems that we had,” he said. “I feel we’ve got a little more experienced officials out here now. Guys who work the college summer leagues and college ball as well. So I’m looking forward to the season. I think the umpires will do great.”
Luis Biardo makes the calls from behind the plate during Pecos League spring training Tuesday in Las Vegas. (Photo by Karen Boehler)
Shawn Moudy works on his officiating skills in the field. (Photo by Karen Boehler)
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