Friday Base Running Secrets – Never Trust the Opposition
I learned a hard rookie lesson one day in the big leagues. I was holding Rod Carew close at second base before the pitch so he could not get a big jump to steal third base. After a pitch, he comes back to the base and says, “I’m not going to steal, you don’t have to pay me any mind.” “Oh, Ok”, I mutter, thinking, “I surely can trust Rod Carew.” So before the next pitch, I play my normal second base position, pay him no mind and proceed to watch as he steals third base easily on the next pitch. Lesson learned to not fall for the tricks of the trade.
As players move up the baseball ladder, they get craftier and players should never trust what they see or hear. Of course, defensive players cannot be trusted either.
Following are common “tricks of the trade” plays that players should never fall for.
When on defense:
- Never assume a player will not steal a base, especially when they act as if they are not interested in stealing on the previous pitches.
- Watch for the delayed steal, which is designed to catch the middle infielders sleeping after the pitched ball.
- Do not assume runners will not tag up and run on balls that are not that deeply hit.
- Do not assume runners will stop at first base just because it was a routine single
- Catchers should not assume runners will not run on blocked pitches in the dirt.
- Don’t fall for the runner slowing up some as if they are to stop, only to take off at full speed
When base running:
- Do not believe outfielders when they raise their arms, as if they are under a fly ball.
- Do not believe infielders when they act as they are fielding a ball, as it may be nowhere near them, as on a hit and run play.
- Do not believe defensive players, who act as if a throw is not coming or is coming to the base you are approaching –either way they may be trying to fool the runner into stopping, sliding or going.
- Do not believe cut off players, who act as though they are cutting the ball off or letting the ball go through.
The key is to coach players to play hard always, until the play is over, and to not assume something because it appears obvious.