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There are many things and/or game situations that can keep pitchers from focusing on getting hitter’s out.
Today I would like to focus on the “annoying base runner on First”. Particularly for right handed pitchers, who can have a difficult time seeing the runner and how far off the bag he really is.
The annoying base runner can do a variety of things to catch your attention. He may quickly clap his hands while he takes a lead, he may challenge you and take an enormous lead or pretend he’s going to steal and never does. Whatever the case may be, he’s just plain annoying.
The first thing you may want to do is pick these annoying runners off right? That is when you should know they’ve got the best of you when that consumes your thoughts. That simply means the base runner has done his job; he’s gotten to you emotionally. The next thing you may want to do the next time this guy is up to bat is throwing him the bean ball. Don’t! Then he’s on base again and the process starts all over again.
Throwing when you are too emotional is never good for you anyway.
So what do you do?
Well, choose to ignore him yes.
But when you can’t see the runner and he’s in your “blind spot”, meaning you can’t see him from the set position when you turn your head either way, what can you do?
The answer is rely on your catcher. Your catcher sees all.
Tell your catcher to inform you when you should throw to first. He’s a better judge at how big a lead he’s truly got or whether or not you should even bother throwing to first.
This should take the pressure right off of you and then you can focus on what you do best. Getting hitters out!
In the case that you or your catcher thinks you should throw to first, your first move doesn’t have to be a pickoff move. You can simply step off the pitching rubber and not make a throw. This informs the base runner you are aware he’s there, he’s on your mind and he better not take that big of lead.
If he continues with the same lead then you can step off and make a casual throw to first. Again, informing the runner he better stay close to first.
If the game continues, then you can show him your stuff and give him your best pickoff move. Most likely you won’t get the runner. But hopefully this will get him closer to the bag next time or keep him from getting as big a jump when he attempts to steal the base.
The problem with pickoff moves and many pitchers is that they think a pickoff move is picking the runner off all of the time. In reality you’re just trying to keep the runner close to the bag so he doesn’t get a good jump or that extra step closer to second.
So what about the annoying runner? How do you take care of them being annoying?
Some base runners are just that way and the only thing you can do is choose to ignore them.
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