Pitchers Defense Fielding Bunts
By Steven Ellis, former Chicago Cubs pitching pro
A bunted ball can be a tough play for a pitcher to make, or it can be an easy out. It all depends on if you are prepared to make the play. There are different strategies depending on where and how hard the ball is bunted.
If a bunted ball is coming at you at a good speed, go ahead and field it like a normal ground ball. Make sure you get your glove on the ground, and get your body square in front of it. Once you field the ball, make sure you are in a good position to throw. If the ball came at you quickly, you should have plenty of time to make a good throw. Turn your body all the way towards first, set your feet, and make a nice firm throw to the base.
Sometimes, a bunted ball simply dies before you can get to it. If you need to field a stopped ball, it is OK to bare hand it. Make sure you have the ball in your possession before you try to make the throw. All too often, a pitcher bobbles the ball repeatedly as they try to hurry their throw, thus resulting in an error. Get the ball in your hand first, then make a throw.
When fielding a bunt, there are a few things to remember. Keep in mind the speed of the hitter. If he has wheels, you will need to hustle up your throw a bit. Also, depending on where the ball is bunted, you may need to hurry the process along. If a ball is bunted down the third base line and dies, you will most likely need to hustle to the ball and make a quick throw. However, if the ball is bunted right back at you, you should have plenty of time to make an easy throw.
Listen to your fielders. If your third basemen is charging and can get to the ball, let him have it. He will have a better angle and momentum going towards first base. Just remember, if there is a runner on first base be sure to cover third base if the third basemen fields the bunt.
Many times if a ball is bunted right in front of the plate, the catcher will be able to field it. If he is able to get to it, he should call you off. Get out of his way and watch the play develop in the event you have to cover any bases.
The most important thing I want to stress when fielding a bunt is making a good throw. A lot of times, a pitcher will field the bunt and think they need to hurry the throw, which results in an over throw and extra bases. Know the situation, and know the runner. Figure out how much time you have to make the play, and make the good throw. Sometimes, a bunt is in a great spot and you will need to hold the throw. There is no harm in this! It is better to give the batter first base than to try to make the miraculous throw and launch the ball into the stands. Work on it!
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