Reacting to defensive errors

Hi everybody. I’m new here but I visit Steven Ellis’ web site for some time.

I’m a pitcher on my team and I would like to know how should I react on defensive errors? I try to not let my emotions take control of my body and try not to express it, but sometimes, especially late in the games or when the score is close I just can’t control.

It’s not like I go and scream to the guy or whatever, but I just let something escape out of my mouth.

So should the pitcher just put his head down, get the ball back and pitch to the next batter, like nothing happened? Or should him say something to the teammate?

Please I appreciate your help.

Welcome KreGg!

As an ex-pitcher (now a pitching coach) I can certainly relate to your experience.

Usually the person who committed the error feels worse than anybody else so saying something negative to him isn’t going to make things better. Saying something REALLY bad will probably make the person think more about the error (or what a jerk you are) and he won’t be mentally ready for the next ball hit to him which means he’ll probably commit another error.

If the opposing players see/hear you getting on your own teammates they’ll probably make it worse. Remember, your part of a team. The best thing to do is tell him to forget it and just be ready for the next ball hit to him.

If there’s something he’s doing wrong physically (that is causing him to make errors) your coach should be the one to point it out - not you. Just concentrate on doing your job and let him concentrate on his. Like it or not, errors are a part of the game.

If you need something more to convince you, “picture” this…

It’s the last inning and there are runners on 2nd and 3rd. There are 2 down, you’re club’s up by a run and YOU are on the mound. The batter hits a slow roller back to you - surely an easy out since you’ve handled a bunch of these before. You field the ball cleanly but in your haste to get the final out quickly, you throw the ball over the firstbaseman’s head and down the right field line. Both runners score and your club loses by a run.

How would YOU feel about a teammate who makes some nasty comments to you?

The most important thing to remember is that baseball is supposed to be fun. Your playing days will come to an end all too soon. Enjoy it while you can!

Thats great advice by Skwezeplay and I’ll add something that I teach my pitchers. Be a leader. Turn and tell that fielder not to worry about it and that your with him. “Hey guy, we’ll get the next one, hang tough”. If you want to see a positive reaction from one of your fielders, try that. Then remember first and foremost, There are only so many things you can control in your life, someone elses actions are not one of them. You would be much better off focusing on the task at hand, your next pitch. Take one pitch at a time, make it the best you have to offer, and trust the other 8 guys around you. Have fun, and good luck.

[quote=“KreGg”]Hi everybody. I’m new here but I visit Steven Ellis’ web site for some time.

I’m a pitcher on my team and I would like to know how should I react on defensive errors? I try to not let my emotions take control of my body and try not to express it, but sometimes, especially late in the games or when the score is close I just can’t control.

It’s not like I go and scream to the guy or whatever, but I just let something escape out of my mouth.

So should the pitcher just put his head down, get the ball back and pitch to the next batter, like nothing happened? Or should him say something to the teammate?

Please I appreciate your help.

yeah yelling at him or making him feel even worse is not good…that play is over it’s dead and theres nothing you can do about it, you can yell at him till your blue in the face but the error still happened and it changed the game…just gotta encourage everyone to make the next play, if nothing else strike out the batter and you won’t need your fielders :wink:

Hey guys, thanks a lot about the advice. I will do my best to control my emotions and concentrate at the next guy.

skwezeplay we had a similar play on my last outing, except it was not my error. The opposite team had 1 guy at first on the 9th and 2 outs and we were up by 1 run. Then the batter hit the ball to the CF, who misplayed it, letting the runner at 1B score and letting the batter reaches 2B. I didn’t let my emotions take control and focused on the next batter but unfortunately I gave up a hit to the RF scoring the winning run.

I know errors are part of the game, and eventually I will end up making one. So I will do my best and motivate my teammate.

I have another question, also about reacting to something. We have some incosistent home plate umpires and sometimes it’s tough to see them call a ball on a perfect strike.
Should the pitcher “express anything” after a blown call? Or, again, get the ball back from the catcher and focus on the next pitch?

I like to ask questions like this because I know concentration is a big big part of pitching and I admire players like Mariano Rivera, that maintain the same facial expressions no matter if he loaded the bases with no outs or if he is ahead by 3 runs and nobody is on base with 2 outs.

Thanks again.

As a pitcher, there’s only one thing you can control … and that is the next pitch . If your 3B kicks one, do your best to smile and pat him on the back…even if you really want kick him in the butt . If ( sorry, when ) the ump doesnt give you a pitch, dont ever let him ( or the opposing bench ) see you whine about it…if you need to blow off some steam, turn to your centerfielder and direct it there…but never let the ump or the guys in the other dugout know that it got to you. In tense situations I ask my pitchers to smile … it shows me they have their emotions under control .

If you think the ump’s strike zone was small causing him to call a ball on a “perfect strike”, just wait until you see how much it shrinks by showing him your displeasure! Many umps, after realizing they missed a pitch, will give you the next one by way of the infamous “make-up call”. Any negative reactions on your part will virtually eliminate any positive reactions that may come from behind the plate. The last thing you want to do is get tossed.

Another important point to make is that umpires don’t forget. If you tried to embarrass/humiliate them, you can expect that they’ll be waiting “eagerly” for your next mound appearance. Believe me when I tell you that word gets around among umpiring crews…

If something needs to be said about a “postage stamp” strike zone, let your coach be the one to offer it.

I can remember a certain American Legion playoff game I was coaching in and my brother was the ump behind the plate (which already created an issue). I’m not positive (since I never asked him) but I think to be sure others wouldn’t think he was showing sybling favoritism, he had the tightest strike zone we had seen all season. My pitcher was obviously frustrated and though he didn’t show it on the mound, he definitely let me know his feelings when he got back to the dugout. I told him to let me handle it and just concentrate on throwing strikes. When the zone kept getting tighter (and because it was my brother), I REALLY got him (the ump) about it. He let me “vent” for a while, then, having had his fill of me, he suddenly called “Time!” stepped back from the plate and turned to me in the dugout. His words I will never forget as he shouted LOUDLY for all to hear.

“Hey, coach. Back off or you’ll be watching this game from the parking lot. Blood isn’t that thick, you know!”

What did I learn from the experience? If my own brother would run ME, he certainly wouldn’t be afraid to say “Adios” to my pitcher ". I did (simmer down), he didn’t (run me or my pitcher), we won.

Moral of the story…
Keep your mouth shut, keep your “body language” inside, keep throwing strikes…you’ll be the better for it.

Al Leiter once said, “A pitchers job is to repeat quality pitches.”

Sometimes those pitches get hit and sometimes you miss a spot and it gets swung through. That’s life on the bump. If you worry about repeating quality pitches, the rest will take care of itself.

I tell young pitchers to try and pitch as if there is no umpire back there. Remember, in order to succeed, you need hitters to hit the ball, not miss it, and you definately do not want them taking too many pitches.

Also, as far as errors go, is missing a spot and giving up a hit considered a mental error on the pitcher? Is walking the leadoff guy of an inning? What about working too slow and putting your fielders gloves to sleep? Or pitching to the 3 hole hitter, who is 2 for 3 off you, in a tie game with the winning run on second while the next guy is 0 for 3 that day. Pitchers make way too many mistakes throughout the course of a game to worry about fielders physical mistakes. It’s a tough go trying to win a game all by yourself.

For the first question, if it is an infielder i will often walk towards them after i get the ball back and mak eeye contact with them and say “you’re alright, get my back on the next one” because as a groundball pitcher i need the 7 guys behind me. On the second question, My dad is an ump and i know all of the local umpires we get and know all their zones, so i cant get upset about their calls knowing where i have to throw it to get a call. For umps i didnt know and i thought the call was bad i got the ball back and just tryed to concentrate harder to make another quality pitch.

One other thing. Without emotion attempt to hit the same spot next pitch. Many umps I’ve seen and known (Including myself) will give the benefit to the pitcher who contols his spots, this is exactly the reason Maddox and Glavine used to get the calls on portions of black. Kinda relating to the guy in another thread who thought for some reason all umps cheated for them, in a way he was right, the easier it is for an ump to call the game (i.e. the ball goes where he “expects” it consistantly) the better for you. not a certainty but it sure will improve your odds.
Take heart, everyone gets frustrated when the result isn’t what we want or expect from our abilities.

Something small to add to the already great posts…

When a pro scout or college coach come to a game to scout a pitcher on the mound, they’re looking at every last detail. Of course, that includes the physical stuff. But they’re also looking at how guys react to plays in the field, errors, missed calls by the ump, etc. Trust me, the scout or coach knows when one of your teammates messes up, boots a ball, makes an errant throw, etc. Every one on the team and in the stands know. That never reflects poorly on you. Only when you react negatively to the situation, does that “tell” something about you that can effect a scout or coach’s impression of you.

Keep it positive. Be a leader. Do what you’re there to do (and focus only on what you can control: the next pitch).

I just gotta put this out…You want frustration? Try this; my son has 3 complete games this season so far, he’s given up a total of 3 earned runs, he’s 1-1. Last night he went 7, they (The opposition) scored their only run on a dropped 3rd strike and his outing ended a 1-1 tie after 7. He also had an inning in his loss where he struck out 4 in an inning and was still on the mound (Was 0-2 on the 5th possible K canidate when he grounded to 2nd). So you see you can have tremendous outings and still things don’t go your way…thats baseball, what are ya gonna do? Shut up and pitch homey!

Errors happen and the best thing to do is just throw the next pitch. Ive learnt to deal with errors very weel in my career which i gained experiance in a couple of years back my defence would give up an average of 5-6 errors an outing. The befifit for me is now that I play at a higher level of ball is that I look back at that old team and brush it off. There were innings i threw 25 pitches but should of goten out of it with 10 and other times Ive thrown more than my share of 4 even some 5 K innings due to error. Just keep on pitching and remember that there’s nothing you can do but support your teamates.

My pitching coach compares pitching to being in a bubble. Once the ball leaves your hand, you can’t make it go faster, break more, or hit its spot. Also, you can’t control what your teammates do. You have a job to do and that’s all you can focus on.

I feel your pain. In a rec league I was in I had a game where I gave up 15 runs (3 earned). Overall I ended up with about a 2.50 ERA but gave up 30 unearned runs.

you can never show your emotions as a pitcher whether you feel an umpire has blown a call or a fielder has made an error. First it looks bad towards you and the more you aggravate an umpire the smaller his zone becomes. Second when the opposing team sees you getting rattled they’ll jump all over you. Last when you get on teammates about making an error they’ll lose respect for you the best thing to do when an error is made is show your resolve and leadership an work through it. Heck earlier this yr are college team couldnt field worth a lick and are coach would blame us saying that every ball the fielders have to field shouldnt be missiles and theyll start making plays. It sounds completley obsurd but now i understand what he was doin by allowing no pitcher to use the fielding woes as an excuse for bad pitching and not allowing us to complain. Now we’ve turned it around and have a chance to win the regular season conference championship this weekend. Never blame ne one but urself thats why baseball is a TEAM sport it takes a whole team to be good.

Yes the frustration with defensive errors…Naturally, as a pitcher, the frustration will be there. YOU CAN NOT let your teammate see your disappointment. They feel bad anyway and your frustration can not help the matter. If it becomes something routinly, your coach is repsonsible to step in. I pitched year back and sure I was frustrated with my teammates at times. I never gave them a bad look, or yelled at them. They already felt bad about it. I wanted them to forget about it and get ready for the next one. What I did do one time…and I am not proud about it, but I intentionally hit the next batter out of frustration on an error. DO NOT DO THAT. Simply tell them they will get it next time.