Where in the Rule Book?


#1

A very common “don’t do that” in baseball is not allowing the pitcher to turn his/her shoulder, after coming set, to look at the runner on first. In fact, it’s a very common portion in a pitcher’s training of avoiding this action and thus getting a balk call.

Where in the Rule Book does it say a pitcher - once coming set can’t turn his/her shoulder around to look at the runner on first? And if he/she does, it’s a Balk!.

Coach B.


#2

The rulebook does not specifically mention turning the shoulders. The movement of the shoulders is considered either a fake while engaged with the rubber (which is not allowed toward first) or a start-and-stop. The pitcher has begun his movement by turning his shoulders and then did not complete the motion home–therefore a balk. I am leaning toward the latter because turning the shoulders is still called a balk even if a runner is not on first.


#3

Right on the button with that one - you’re right, there’s nothing in the rule book about turning the shoulder, or any other part of the body ONCE THE PITCHER HAS SET. He/she must either deliver, step off, or with distance and direction throw to the bag.

With respect to that last one - throwing to the bag, there are specific guides that umpires use when the first baseman is not in contact with the bag directly … but that’s for another round.

In regards to … "I am leaning toward the latter because turning the shoulders is still called a balk even if a runner is not on first." Correct, to a certain extent. With a runner on third, a southpaw has the same rules applied to him/her, but without the restrictions of the fake throw, and with no runners on, there is no balk applied after a pitcher comes set. In fact with no runners on, a pitcher does not have to come set with a stop motion at all.

These considerations are applied to MLB and any exceptions due to Federation rules or other league play is another matter.


#4

NFHS rule 6.1.1 “Turning the shoulders after bringing the hands together during or after the stretch is a balk.” It used to be ANYTIME when the feet were in the set position, including during the stretch (taking signs) but they changed that about 5 years ago.