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Bill Miller and Jeff Nelson promoted to crew chiefs by MLB, which hires 7 new umpires

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NEW YORK, N.Y. - Bill Miller and Jeff Nelson have been promoted to crew chiefs by Major League Baseball, which added seven umpires to the big league staff as part of the expansion for increased instant replay.

MLB agreed last month to boost the umpire staff by six members, and an additional ump was hired to replace Wally Bell, who died in October of an apparent heart attack.

The new members of the staff announced Thursday are Jordan Baker (age 32), Lance Barrett (29), Cory Blaser (32), Mike Estabrook (37), Mike Muchlinski (36), David Rackley (32) and D.J. Reyburn (37). All seven were minor league umps who filled in at the big league level in recent years for umps that were injured or on vacation.

As part of MLB's replay agreement with the World Umpires Association, the big league staff expanded from 68 to 74. Major league umps will be used as replay officials as the offices of MLB Advanced Media in New York, where many on-field umpiring decisions will be subject to video review.

Justin Klemm was hired in the new post of director of instant replay. A veteran of nine years as a minor league ump, he had spent the last six years with the Professional Baseball Umpire Corp., which manages minor league umps. He will report to Peter Woodfork, MLB's senior vice-president of baseball operations.

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