By Steven Ellis, former Chicago Cubs pitching pro
The main goal of a pitcher is to obviously pitch. However, every so often a pitcher must make a play as a fielder. Common situations are bunts and weak hits. There are a few things to keep in mind to make a good play as a pitcher.
The main objective when fielding a bunt or soft groundball is to field it cleanly and make a good throw. There is no need to make a fancy play in this situation. The other team is essentially give you an out…don’t blow it!
To field the ball cleanly, it is important to get in the proper position to make a good play. When the ball is first bunted or hit, your first reaction will be to charge in really hard to field the ball. This can lead to mistakes. Charging the ball too hard can cause you to overrun the ball, which will result in the runner being safe at first base.
Once you are in position to field the ball, make sure to scoop it up with both your glove and throwing hand. By doing it this way, it will ensure that you don’t bobble the ball. Once you have control of the ball, turn and step towards first base. In order to prevent a bad throw, it is very important that your feet are pointed in the right direction.
An important thing to remember when fielding your position as a pitcher is to communicate. Listen to your other fielders, especially the catcher and third basemen. They may be able to get to the ball easier than you can, and they will usually have a better angle on the throw. Let them make the play if they call you off.
If you don’t already know how to field first base on a ball hit to the right side, be sure to learn this ASAP. If a ball is hit to the first basemen, there is a good chance you will have to cover the base if he can’t get to it himself. There is a right way and a wrong way to do this. More information on covering first base can be found in a different article.
Practice makes perfect. A pitcher can’t throw a bullpen every day, but they can do PFPs whenever they want. PFP stands for Pitcher Fielding Practice. You can practice fielding bunts and short hits by having a coach or player roll out some ground balls in front of the plate. Practice using the proper footwork and body control, and for even better practice, get the catcher and third baseman involved to work on communication. Also, you can work on covering first base with your PFPs.
A pitcher has many responsibilities, and fielding their position is one of them. Practicing your mechanics of fielding a ball is as important as pitching itself. Failing to do this correctly can result in unnecessary base runners and more work for you as a pitcher.
Related Pitching Materials
Want to learn more about pickoff moves, fielding drills and defensive plays for pitchers? Arm yourself with the most innovative and up-to-date baseball pitching training available. These related pitching materials from former Chicago Cubs pitching pro Steven Ellis are guaranteed to help you or the players you coach pitch better and reach the next level faster!