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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Covering first base correctly

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Left foot = Wrong!

Go to any spring training practice and you are bound to see a drill in which pitchers cover first base on balls hit to their left.  It continually amazes me that this play can be screwed up with the amount of time pitchers spend doing this drill. There are a number of little things associated with making this play correctly.  Getting off the mound quickly, the angle to first base the pitcher takes, etc. all are important factors.  This post deals simply with footwork on the bag.  Using the correct foot to touch first base can go a long way in making sure this play turns out more successful and injury free.  Whether a pitcher is right or lefthanded, he should always touch first base with his right foot.  This makes it more likely that the pitcher's body stays on the fair side of the first base line and away from the runner.  If a pitcher is on the fair side of the line and the runner contacts him, the batter is probably outside the official running area and should be called out.  When the pitcher uses his left foot to touch the base, the right half of his body is over the first base bag.  Many times this results in the runner “spiking” the pitcher by stepping on his foot/leg while trying to reach the bag.  Collisions also occur if the pitcher is in the path of the runner.  Either way, serious injuries and dropped throws can result.  Touching the bag with your right foot goes a long way in preventing those things from happening.
Of course, how you approach the bag has a lot to do with what kind of feed your teammate gives you.  A horrible throw might require you to scrap this advice and just get the ball with either foot hitting the bag.  

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