– Representatives of the Twins, Pirates, Orioles, Red Sox and Rays gathered in Port Charlotte, Fla., on Sunday for a meeting to go over the implementation of the new replay system. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, coach Terry Steinbach, assistant GM Rob Antony and Jack Goin, manager of administration and research, attended.

MLB is expanding instant replay, and it is expected to be tested during spring games.

Gardenhire hopes there will be an update on plans to ban home plate collisions. Players are suffering concussions and other injuries from them.

The Twins continue to drill their catchers on blocking home plate, and Gardenhire is concerned about the ban.

“My biggest fear through all this is that they’re putting more on the shoulders of the umpires to make judgment decisions,” Gardenhire said. “It’s going to lead to issues because it’s a tough situation for umpires to be in. They have to make the decision whether the runner slid, should have slid or didn’t have a chance to slide. They’re going to put that on their shoulders because it’s not definitive whichever way they go.

“They’re going to have to make a judgment on what they see and it puts a lot on their shoulders. That’s what I feel. There’s going to be times when a guy comes in there with no place to go and slides and he gets hurt and then you’re going to have issues because he can’t protect himself as a runner trying to score and a catcher whacks him. You’re going to have a lawsuit, in my opinion.”

MLB is reportedly going to make an announcement about collisions Monday.

Workout wonders

Keep in mind that it’s just batting practice.

Miguel Sano and Kennys Vargas were impressive again during regular BP Sunday. Sano hit one pitch over the new berm in left field at Hammond Stadium, and Vargas cleared the newly constructed seats in right with one of his blasts. Each connected for line drives when Ricky Nolasco took the mound for his throwing session.

Sano is considered one of the top power-hitting prospects in the game. Vargas, a first baseman listed at 6-5 and 273 pounds, is a project. He has battled weight problems but has shown some power and improved plate discipline in his five years in the organization.

Observers were impressed with righthander Alex Meyer, who showed off his powerful fastball and sharp slider during his batting practice session.




Let’s meet

Kris Johnson


Age: 29

2013 stats: 10-4 with a 2.39 ERA in 26 games (21 starts) for Class AAA Indianapolis. Gave up seven earned runs in 10⅓ innings with Pirates.

Acquired: Trade with Pittsburgh on Nov. 19.

Role: Starter at Class AAA Rochester.

Did you know? Before landing with the Pirates, he had been released by the Red Sox and had signed with the Kansas City T-Bones of the independent American Association.