September 16, 2022

Runner Fails to Retouch Base

Oswaldo Cabrera fails to retouch second base and is ruled out on continuous action appeal

Runner Fails to Retouch Base

The Yankees and Red Sox played at Fenway on September 13, 2022. In the top of the second, the Yankees had Oswaldo Cabrera on first base and one out when Miguel Andújar, facing Nick Pivetta, hit a fly ball to Alex Verdugo in right field. Cabrera, who was off with the pitch, went beyond second base before he decided to return to first.

On his return to first base, Cabrera missed touching second base. Rather than call “Time,” Boston wisely made a continuous action appeal. The ball went from Verdugo to second baseman Christian Arroyo, to shortstop Xander Bogaerts who stepped on second and appealed that Cabrera failed to retouch second base.  But second base umpire Paul Clemons denied the appeal. Red Sox manager Alex Cora then challenged the “no call.” The Replay Official agreed that Cabrera failed to retouch second base and he was called out.

Ruleball Comment

  1. The Replay Official properly overturned the “no call” on the field.
  2. If the runner has both feet beyond the base and fails to retouch the base with either foot when returning to his previous base, the runner is subject to be called out on appeal.
  3. I have always grappled with the word “beyond.” It does not appear that Cabrera had both feet beyond the base. But by rule he did.  In the above play, Cabrera stepped beyond second base with his left foot while his pivot foot was planted on second base. He then disengaged the base with his pivot foot stepping to the side of the base. At that point he was considered to be past or beyond the base with both feet. To make a legal retouch of the base, he would have had to step on the base with either foot before returning to first base. Instead, he swung his left foot around and did not retouch the base before returning to his previous base.  
  4. When a runner must retouch a base, it is often problematic if the runner is just a half step or a step beyond the base. Because of his proximity to the bag, he loses his sight line to the base and often fails to retouch because of lack of concentration or knowledge of the rule.  Also, the footwork when retouching when only a half- step or a step is involved can get tricky.
  5. Credit the Red Sox infielders and the dugout for noticing the violation and making the appeal. Infielders should be told that they become umpires in such plays.
  6. Also, credit the Red Sox for making a CONTINUOUS ACTION APPEAL. That is the most practical way to make an appeal. Calling “Time” and appealing from the mound can be dangerous because if the pitcher balks, makes a play on another runner, or throws the ball into dead ball territory, the defensive team loses the right to appeal.

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