Question and Answers

This page will be used to share any baseball umpiring questions and an answer from one of our instructors.

To ask a question, please send an email to the Director of Umpiring at


Import pitcher returning to the mound

Q: If an "import" pitcher starts a game, then is moved to the outfield, can he come back and pitch again later in the game?

A: The rules of baseball do not prohibit a pitcher being moved to the field and then back onto the mound, provided any pitcher completes a batter or records an out (5.10f and 5.10g).  It is the local By Laws that place extra restrictions on "imports".  By Law 43.14 states that an "import" may only pitch " a total of only 50% of the scheduled State League games, for which they are available to play."  As such, this means that each game that they participate in counts towards this limit but not the number of times they become the pitcher.

So yes an "import" pitcher can be moved to the field, and then come back and pitch again later in the game without any consequences towards their quota of games.


Batted ball striking batter a second time

Q: A  batter bunts. The ball hits the ground and bounces directly back up to hit the batters hand in fair territory. Once I saw an umpire calls this a foul ball, but another time I saw an umpire calls the batter ‘out’. Which one is correct?

A: The important difference in these two plays must have been the position of the batter.  If he remains in the batters box when a batted ball strikes him, the ball is simply a foul ball.  If he has stepped out of the batters box and the ball strikes him he is out.


Award of Bases for a Runner returning to a base

Q: Runner on second base, batter hits to short stop who fields the ball, fakes a throw to second base to force the runner back to the base to ensure he does not have an opportunity to get to third base. The short stop then throws the ball wild, past first base and out of play.

The batter advances to second base. Does the runner at second base only advance to third base or is he entitled to home plate on the one plus ruling of the wild throw?

A: Rule 5.06(4)(G) states that runners are awarded "Two bases when... a thrown ball goes into the stands.  When such wild throw is the first play by an infielder, the umpire, in awarding such bases, shall be governed by the position of the runners at the time the ball was pitched..."
As the "fake" is not a play it does not count, so the first actual play is the wild throw.  So the correct award is "two bases, time of the pitch" and means the runner scores.

The award on a ball thrown out of play is ALWAYS two bases.  It does not matter if the runner is trying to advance, returning or tagging up.  And the rule book never mentions anything about "one plus one".  I've been trying to remove that from baseball's vocabulary for years.


Award of Bases on Pickoffs

Q: Runner on first base, pitcher on the mound in the set position. Pitcher steps off the back of the mound and throws wild past first base and out of play.

1: Does the runner at first base go to third base under one plus ruling as the pitcher in stepping off the back of the plate is then deemed an infielder?

2: Does this differ if the pitcher attempts to pick off the runner at first base and effectively steps off the mound in one motion as part of the pick off?


1. As soon as the pitcher disengages the rubber (steps off the back) he is deemed to be an infielder and so if he throws the ball out of play rule 5.06(4)(G) applies.  This means the award is "two bases, time of the pitch" ; albeit in this case it is just the position at the start of the play.  So the runner from first is awarded third.

2. If the pitcher disengages the rubber in one motion as he is picking off, he is not deemed to be still in contact with the rubber.  Rule 5.06(4)(H) states that the runners are awarded "One base, if a ball ... thrown by the pitcher from his position on the pitcher’s plate to a base to catch a runner, goes into a stand...."  So in this case, the runner from first is awarded second.

Moving Designated Hitter to the field

Q: A Designated Hitter in being used for the pitcher.  If the pitcher is taken out of the game can the DH come into the game (same batting position of course) and one of the fielders then come in as pitcher (stays in same batting position). The DH may go to the previous position held by the incoming pitcher or multiple changes could occur in the field with the DH going to another position.

A: The batting order can never change, as you mentioned.  However with the removal of the DH, the 9 players in the batting order must now fulfil all 9 positions on the field.  There is no need to have the DH temporarily moved to the new pitcher's old position, as multiple changes can occur at the same time. For example, the Left Fielder can come into pitch, the DH moved to 2B and the Second Baseman can be moved to LF at at the same time.  See rule 5.11.


Flying Start

Q: In the comments of Rule 5.09(c)(1) it says that a runner is not permitted to take a flying start from a position in back of his base.  What does a flying start mean?

A:  A flying start means that a runner cannot start behind the base and start moving before the ball is caught.  If they start behind the base and start moving before the ball is caught, even though they may still be in contact with the base when the ball is caught (or touch it afterwards), they are deemed to have made a "flying start".

Practically, if the runner starts moving before the ball is caught, this is what we call is a flying start and should be called out on appeal, as per the comments in Rule 5.09(c)(1).