Where in the Rule Book?

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.

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.

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.

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.