Umpires for the spring training preseason game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Pittsburgh Pirates were not fussed about working any overtime on Tuesday as they left the field before the players.
In fairness to the officials, the game had officially ended when Baltimore’s Josh Lester grounded out to second base at the top of the ninth with the Pirates leading 7-4.
But due to a prior discussion between Pirates manager Derek Shelton and Baltimore boss Brandon Hyde, the decision was made to keep the players out for the bottom of the ninth in order to give right-hander Ofreidy Gómez some practice against live hitters.
The game continued without umpires as many supporters started making their way out of the stadium.
According to MLB, catcher Maverick Handley was given the extra responsibility of calling balls and strikes for the rest of the game.
“A little backfield action,” Hyde told reporters after the game, per MLB.
It’s not unheard of for teams to decide to play a little longer during spring training games, but the umpires have no obligation to stick around.
Clearly not on board with Tuesday’s plan, the officials simply walked off the field after a brief discussion. Perhaps they had dinner reservations?
It’s yet another bizarre moment in this year’s preseason where players have been getting used to the new regulations brought in to speed up games for 2023.
They have until the season starts for real on March 30 to get used to the changes and umpires will soon be obliged to stick around until the final pitch to enforce them.