Ask The Umpire


Get quick answers to all your Umpiring Questions from Jim Thompson, a member of the Florida and National High School Hall of Fame

by JCbaseball » Wed Jan 11, 2017 3:51 pm


Hit Batsman. The rule now reads: “A batter may not make a movement to intentionally get hit by the pitch and must avoid being hit whenever possible” (8-2d1).

Ground Rules. There is now an absolute prohibition on ground rules that conflict with the official playing rules. Previously, there was an option for a fielder who caught a ball in live-ball territory to subsequently enter dead-ball territory and throw from there (see next Item). The formulation of ground rules continues to be a home team responsibility and if the visiting team does not agree, the ground rules are determined by the umpires (4-5).

Catch and Carry. As mentioned, there is no longer an option for a fielder to catch a ball in live-ball territory and throw from dead-ball territory. Once such a fielder enters an area that is out of play, regardless of whether he falls or not, each runner, other than the batter, will be awarded one base (6-1d, 6-4e).

Glove size. The maximum length of the glove for all players other than the catcher and first baseman has been increased one inch to13 inches; the width is still eight inches. That change was made at the professional level and it made sense to follow suit to avoid inadvertent oversized gloves (1-13c).
Bullpen warm-ups. In an effort to assure equity in facilities for each team, potential substitute pitchers and other players must use the warm-up areas that are designated on the playing field during the game. They may not use another facility or location out of sight and sound of the playing field. There is a concern that home teams have an unfair advantage, particularly during inclement weather, with access to facilities that are not available to the visiting team. Both teams must have access to everything or no one uses it (2-13 AR 2).

Halted Game. A clarification was made that if both teams agree prior to the start of a nonconference contest and the contest cannot be finished, the unfinished game becomes a “no contest” only if the game has not met the conditions of a regulation game (5-9c AR).
Warm-up. A clarification was made to indicate a defensive player may warm up another defensive player during a pitching change as well as a conference. That activity cannot delay the game and the player warming up must in the current lineup and remain in fair territory (9-4.a.AR.6).
A variety of changes were made that impact the pitcher.

Windup Position. Out of concern that base runners and umpires were having difficulty differentiating when a pitcher is in a windup or set position, the rule now acknowledges what the baseball world has understood for years. A pitcher in the windup generally faces the batter with his chest and shoulders. The pivot foot must be on or in front of and touching the pitchers’ plate with the other foot free (9-1a).
Pivot Foot. Also, a pitcher Is prohibited from jumping or pushing forward off the pitcher’s plate with his pivot foot and then bringing his foot to the ground and make a second push off to deliver the pitch. That act is now an illegal pitch and a balk with runners on base (9-1a9).
Alternate Baseball. It was clarified that the umpires will be the sole judge of whether the ball should be checked and should do so if the ball has bounced off equipment or the external parts of the ballpark, such as the fence, wall, dugouts and other equipment. Umpires should check the ball if it appears to be “discolored, scuffed or otherwise unsuitable for play,” or if the pitcher requests a different ball (4-1 Nt).

Momentary Adjustment. It was clarified that in either pitching position, a pitcher may momentarily adjust the ball in the glove and separate the hands so long as it is prior to taking a legal pitching position (9-3.h).

Tattoos. If a pitcher has a tattoo that the batter or umpire consider distracting, the pitcher must cover it (9-2.h).

Tobacco use by Pitcher. If the pitcher is caught using tobacco, he is suspended for four games. Previously, a violation resulted in a one-game suspension. Because the pitcher does not play every day, requiring the pitcher to serve a four game suspension likely prevents him from participating in one contest. Additionally, the head coach will be ejected from the game (3-11 Pen).
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