Sunday, June 9, 2013

Rumor: AAA Umpire Conroy May be Hired, Replacing Brian Runge

Rumor: A call-up Triple-A umpire will replace Brian Runge on the MLB roster this season, which, if true, would mark the second Triple-A promotion to the full-time staff during the regular season since the NL and AL umpiring staffs merged and created the new era of unified MLB umpiring.* The situation is described as "fluid" yet potentially imminent. This is an unconfirmed rumor from a pro-ball source and is presented as such.

Brian Runge in 2011.
Runge, who has not worked an MLB regular season game dating back to August 30, 2012, worked a rehab assignment Triple-A New Orleans earlier this May; according to an anonymous source, Runge's attempt at the MiLB return was a failed venture, unlike similar assignments undertaken by crew chiefs Joe West and Gary Cederstrom, who both returned to MLB ball. An umpire will often work a minor league rehab assignment after significant injury or similar event that results in an extended absence from the sport.

Brian Gorman, for instance, who missed approximately 50 games to begin the 2013 MLB season, spent Memorial Day week in Triple-A Memphis before returning to the show. Rob Drake worked with Cederstrom in the Pacific Coast League before returning.

After surgery forced him to miss the entire 2006 and most of the 2007 major league seasons, MLB umpire Bill Hohn worked Tucson Sidewinders games for over a week before returning to the big league field. After being placed on umpiring's disabled list for the entire 2011 season, Hohn officially retired from baseball prior to the 2012 season, ending a NL/MLB career dating back to 1987; Todd Tichenor, who served as Hohn's de facto replacement during the 2011 season, was hired in his wake.

This past season, injuries claimed two umpires' professional on-field careers. After taking the brunt of foul balls resulting in concussions and neck injuries for years, crew chief Tim Tschida opted to retire upon hearing from multiple experts who told him "you're one hard foul tip away from quality-of-life issues." Tschida transitioned from professional umpiring to serving as a high school baseball assistant coach.

Meanwhile, Ed Rapuano retired to the position of MLB Umpire Evaluator due to similar injury concerns.

Though a midseason umpiring roster change is an exceptionally rare occurrence, the UEFL Rules Book specifically addresses the case of an umpire hire or release/retirement during the baseball season:
Rule 1-4-d: Umpire classification as AAA or MLB shall be determined during the pre-season draft period, and shall not be altered for scoring purposes during the regular or post-season unless... (2) the umpire is promoted to the MLB staff.
Rule 1-5-a: ...If a significant personnel modification (hiring, firing, release or retirement, except as exempted by Rule 1-4-d) occurs after the pre-season, no UEFL roster may be modified. 
In other words, a Runge retirement or placement on the umpiring Disabled List would not allow for modification to the UEFL roster while a Conroy or other MiLB promotion would cause the retroactive assessment of MLB-level points for all prior ejections.

tmac's pre-season MiLB umpire power rankings placed Conroy in fourth position, behind fellow umpires Mike Estabrook, Lance Barrett and Jordan Baker. Conroy has been a regular big league fixture in 2013 and his 129 games worked in 2012 ranks third amongst call-ups that season (Mike Muchlinski [ranked #8], 132; DJ Reyburn [ranked #7], 130).

*After a blood clot developed as a complication from a knee injury and the ensuing surgery, Terry Craft missed a great part of the late 2001-early 2002 season. He retired in July 2006, prompting MLB to add Lance Barksdale to the Major League staff.

19 comments :

Gil Imber said...

Brian Gorman actually did work a few Memphis Redbirds games this year right around Memorial Day. Here is a Box Score:

http://www.milb.com/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2013_05_28_albaaa_mrbaaa_1

Also, Rob Drake did a rehab stint in Triple A this year and was actually on the same crew as Gary Cederstrom:

http://www.milb.com/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2013_04_17_mrbaaa_nozaaa_1

Gil Imber said...

Thanks

Gil Imber said...

FYI, in July of 2006 Lance Barksdale was hired after Terry Craft resigned/retired in mid season.

Gil Imber said...

Jim Wolf has not been around since April. Anyone know whats going on with him?

Gil Imber said...

Hoping he comes back soon...

Gil Imber said...

It can be a brutal profession—more and more we're seeing that the same type of injuries and strains that regular baseball athletes, very often catchers, succumb to and are forced to retire at 40 because of are befalling umpires.

Gil Imber said...

After Jordan Baker's "in the news" moments earlier this season, I'd be surprised if MLB brazenly hired him anytime soon.

Gil Imber said...

You know, the Tschida situation specifically makes me think of Kerwin Danley and his bad luck getting hit repeatedly by foul balls and direct 90+ mph pitches. I'm afraid that for the sake of his health down the road, Danley might also be one to retire 10+ years earlier than originally planned.

Gil Imber said...

Pretty soon all of the old guys are going to retire and there wont be another hire for 10 years.

Gil Imber said...

Do we know what put Runge out too began with

Gil Imber said...

Although I am not 100% certain, I believe in 2001 Tim Timmons was hired to replace Al Clark mid season.

Gil Imber said...

Imagine showing up to your HS game and seeing Timmy Tschida on the bench.....

Gil Imber said...

I'm not sure I would have the self-discipline to not try and pick his brain for hours before and after the game.

Gil Imber said...

That's a real shame about Tim Tschida. He was one of the best for a long time. He would have probably had a number of years left if it weren't for the injuries. Always sorry to see the quality veterans go, although with the openings, I am glad that a guy like Jim Joyce was finally able to get promoted to crew chief.

Gil Imber said...

Turducken's going to break some more news -- Per sources, Jordan Baker has had a conversation with Joe Torre about his gum throwing. Rest assured, Jordan will not be throwing gum anymore.

Gil Imber said...

Based on my amateur opinion, I have been most impressed by Conroy and Tumpane of the AAA umpires who have filled in this year. Of course that probably means they will never be hired by MLB :)

Gil Imber said...

I think Jim Wolf was hired mid-season in 2004, but I don't recall whom he was replacing

Gil Imber said...

How many people that are not umpire fans even know who he is? I bet most of the people in that little town he now lives in still don't know he was a MLB umpire.

Gil Imber said...

Bill Hohn is also a baseball coach for school age kids locally. It's interesting to see these MLB guys retire early due to their injuries and you can tell they really still want to be involved in e game they love, so they become coaches at a less stressful, much more flexible level. First Billy Hohn and now Timmy Tschida and that's just umpires in recent years.

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