Play: After a dropped third strike, my batter walks back to the dugout, but he doesn’t enter the dugout. What is the baseline for him to run to first base?
Ruling: This situation may pose problems depending on (1) where the batter actually is located when he/she decides to run to 1st base, and (2) the path he/she chooses to take in doing so. If the batter has walked completely back to the dugout or team bench and decides then to run, he/she must return to the established baseline from home to 1st. Usually, this baseline is clearly drawn on the field.
For example, the batter is not entitled to run in a direct line from a point immediately in front of his/her team bench to 1st base. In this instance, the covering umpire may rule the batter out for running outside the baseline.
A properly trained umpire will exercise reasonable discretion and use appropriate judgment in the case of a batter who walks only a few steps away from the home plate area before deciding to run.
Sources: MLB 7.08(e, j); NFHS 7.4.1(b.1), 8.1.1(b), 8.4.2(a)