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TORONTO – As Teoscar Hernandez walked to the plate in his Rogers Centre return on Friday and Toronto Blue Jays fans stood and cheered, Alek Manoah backed off the mound while home plate umpire Tripp Gibson stepped away to let the Seattle Mariners slugger feel the love.

Deftly handled by all, which isn’t a given now that the pitch clock is in play. Already this season, celebratory ovations for Chicago Cubs centre fielder Cody Bellinger in his return to Dodger Stadium and Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Drew Maggi, making his big-league debut after 1,155 minor-league games over 13 seasons, were marred by timer violation calls.

Avoiding a similar circumstance Friday in Toronto was the byproduct of Blue Jays staff informing the umpires that there would be a pre-game video tribute for Hernandez, which helped crew chief Mark Carlson and Co. plan for a potential ovation.

“We took it upon ourselves to let Major League Baseball know that if this happened when he came up the bat, that we were going to pause the clock and let him take his time,” Carlson said in an interview Saturday. “Normally, the clubs have the ability to contact Major League Baseball when they feel that there might be an extended reception for a former player. And if they don’t, we still have the option of recognizing it and allowing the extra time.

“We don’t want to take away from a former player’s reception and that the fans who loved him want to give him. We just took it upon ourselves to delay the start, give him his opportunity to relish in his success that he’s had here and go from there.”

Blue Jays manager John Schneider said MLB had sent out a memo asking teams to give the league 24-hours notice if they anticipated a potential ovation that could require a pause of the pitch clock, so that they could give the umpiring crew for the game a heads up.

Umpires, who like players are also adapting to the new rules, are under pressure to keep games moving, which creates something of a “grey area” in situations like those of Hernandez, Bellinger and Maggi.

“If we’re not given a heads up, we don’t always recognize that, ‘Oh, my gosh, this guy was a player here prior, or a fan favourite, or whatever reception the team or fans would give them, you know what I’m saying?” explained Carlson. “If we’re able to recognize it prior to it, it doesn’t catch us off-guard. That’s why the heads up from baseball or from the team is important, so we don’t get put in a situation like that. Any opportunity we have for the players to be recognized from their former teams, we have no problem with that.”

Helping on Friday night was that Manoah created the space for Hernandez to get recognized by not standing on the rubber, waiting to pitch. That could have put the big right-hander at risk of a violation too, had Carlson signalled the timer to start.

“It was pretty awesome,” Manoah said of the ovation for Hernandez. “I know it’s a big situation, but I tried to stay off the mound so he can kind of enjoy that moment. He was great for us, an amazing teammate and great for the city. Everybody loves him. So, I wanted him to enjoy that moment.”

A combination of anticipation, co-ordination and common sense made sure he did.

“The respect from Manoah to step off the mound and give him that opportunity helps out in the situation,” said Carlson. “It’s not like it’s gamesmanship against the pitcher, or anything like that. He understood it and I think everybody understands that it’s a positive for baseball. Guys who have been around a long time, you need to show the respect to them, their former teammates and fans.”