As a pitcher you must be prepared in any given situation. You should know as soon as the ball is hit, what to do or where to go. As much as you need to know this information, and it should become habitual, it is crucial not to spend too much time learning to field your position or working on your pick-off moves. Here are some basic guidelines to follow:
The basic backup drills you will need to practice are:
- Ball hit with runner on first: You should back up third base
- Ball hit with runner on second: Back up home
- Ball hit with two runners on: Back up wherever you feel the ball is going to be thrown. Just use common sense and judge where you will be needed in case of an overthrow.
- Covering first on a double play: If there is a man on first and the first baseman is pulled off the bag to make the double play you will cover first.
- Ball is hit to the right side: Anytime the ball is hit to the right side, you immediately cover first base. Before you make a dead sprint to the bag, run toward the foul line two-thirds of the way to the bag. Run along the inside of the foul line, catch the ball on the run (with one hand), touch the base and immediately remove your foot from the bag to avoid contact with the runner. If you beat the throw drag your right foot on the bag to ensure the out is made.
It is important that you work on this pitching drill with your first baseman until it feels very natural for the both of you.
- How to make a play when a line drive is hit back to you: The best way to teach a pitcher how to protect himself and make the play here is to help him understand the mechanics of his follow through. The Glove arm always stays in front of the pitcher after the ball is thrown. Square up your shoulders and do your best to make the play.
- Bunt plays to all the bases: These are very important. This should be a sure out regardless of how many runners are on the bases. Let’s say there’s a man on first and second. Cover the right side; you want to think about getting the lead runner in this situation; however a sure bet is going to be pivoting and throwing it to first base. Again, use common sense. In many cases when a pitcher gets to aggressive with his throws, always trying for the lead runner, he gets himself into more trouble with fewer outs.
Good Luck and Play Ball!