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Ask the Ump – Play 14

Play:A runner stands on 2nd base after hitting a double. Time is not called. The pitcher without the ball returns to the mound area within the 9-foot radius. The second baseman tags the runner when the runner leaves the base to take a lead prior to the next pitch. Is the runner out due to the hidden ball trick according to Major League Rules?

Ruling: The MLB rule restricts the pitcher from “standing on or astride the pitcher’s plate without having the ball. Straddling the pitcher’s plate without having the ball is considered as “intent to deceive,” and is therefore a balk. The pitcher in your scenario has not violated the rule, consequently, the runner is out when the second baseman applies the tag.

By contrast, pitchers have less latitude under National Federation High School (NFHS) Rules. At the scholastic level, pitchers are restricted from being “within five feet of the pitcher’s plate without having the ball.” In the game scenario you pose, the runner would also be out when tagged by the second baseman.

Sources: MLB 8.05(i); NFHS 6.5 and 8.4.2(h); Also see “Ask The Ump” Play 007

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