BP Pitching

I was watching a practice session yesterday and one of the pitchers was directed to toss batting practice (BP).

Usually, and it’s not all that uncommon, for the pitching coach to toss batting practice. However, in my opinion this is a tremendous waste of time and talent, especially when there’s a bullpen that could benefit from the practice session as well.

The pitching coach had two players roll out a pitcher’s protective screen accompanied by shopping basket full of baseballs.

The first designated pitcher went through his motions of tossing BP as if he was pitching. He found it awkward to maintain a somewhat upright position while delivering to each batter. The pitching coach then stood behind him (pitcher) and started instructing him on how to toss BP. A learning experience that was not all that easy to comprehend – at first.

toss BP is a regular duty now with many clubs in the upper echelons of this sport. In fact, if you want to break into a very competitive league/club and there just isn’t an opening right at that time- volunteer to be a BP pitcher. (if you have the time to spare)

tossing BP is an art that compliments both the fielding club and the offensive side of the sport. The idea here is NOT to strike out the lineup – on the contrary, it’s to allow the lineup(batters) to sharpen their hitting skills at a pace that allows them to think through the art of hitting, and at the same time, get into and maintain their “grove”.

Sometimes the fielding team will actually field balls as if their in a game. When this is the case, the batting coach will direct the batter to “place hit” the ball. In this instance the pitcher will be directed to pitch fastballs down the middle, then off the corners low, then off the corners high. Then the pitcher will be directed to toss a round of breaking balls. In all cases the batter will take a “look see” and what the incoming pitch looks like – then gets down to business.

On the other hand, sometimes the fielding team will have infield protective screens of their own. In this situation, the fielders are protected – somewhat, from hits that they aren’t necessarily trying to field. Basically, batting practice and the infield practice sessions are separate and in no way connected to one another. In other words, they both occupy the field but their independent skill sessions. The batting coach is directing his BP session while the infield coach, the base running coach, and the outfield coach are all doing their thing.

In any event, let’s focus back on the pitcher’s role while tossing BP.

Notice my use of a word – toss. Not pitch.

BP pitching takes a bit getting use to. With a protective screen in front of you, it’s a little difficult to go into your full delivery mode. In addition, the idea here is deliver one ball after another so the batter can get in as many “licks” as he can, and benefit form the experience. In fact, it’s not unusual to spend an entire BP session instructing batters to “hit the oppose way”, instead of pulling the ball. That – is a grind for a BP pitcher
take my words for it.

Another aspect of BP tossing is a pitcher’s physical condition. tossing BP is no walk in the park. It’s repetitive, constant physical work – over and over again. And although full game speed is not the idea, a BP pitcher had better be in shape due to the posture necessary to toss over the protective screen with what can seem like an endless basket of baseballs and a guy in the box who’s just not “getting it”. And I’ll be honest here
by saying at one time I had the stamina to toss BP – but one hot, muggy, afternoon I had just had-it with this “punch-n-judy” slug – and it did cross my mind that if I was to just drill this guy - it would put us both out of our misery.

tossing BP is just as much part of your job. As much as stabilizing your pitch inventory, game knowledge, base backup and run down scenarios. Precise accuracy, deliberate repetitive motions supported by your stamina and physical condition are mandatory parts of your baseball resume.

Below is a picture of a coach using a pitcher’s protective screen.

Coach B.

There’s a very amusing story about Allie Reynolds in college. One time he was told to throw batting practice to the hitters. So he did—only it wasn’t batting practice; he was firing the ball in there at full speed, and the batters couldn’t get so much as a loud foul off him. The coach stood there and watched for a few minutes and then told Allie, “Go get a uniform. You’re on the team.” :slight_smile: