There are nine fielding positions: three outfielders, four infielders, a catcher, and the pitcher. At the start of the game, the catcher is required to be in his place in the catcher’s box and the pitcher is required to be in his place on the pitcher’s mound. The other seven fielders may be located elsewhere in fair territory.
Fielders have labels that define their positions, such as left fielder, but it is a label only. Any fielder besides the catcher and pitcher may be situated anywhere on the field so long as it is in fair territory.
The “normal” position for each the seven fielders (besides catcher and pitcher) is shown in the diagram.
Once the pitcher disengages from the pitching rubber or completes his pitch, he too, becomes an infielder. So any throws into dead ball area while the pitcher is an “infielder” are subject to the same base awards as any other infielder.
To begin the game, all fielders must be in fair territory. Beyond the pitcher taking his place on the mound, the catcher must be in the catcher’s box – directly behind home plate. He must remain in this box until the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand. The only exception to this rule is when the catcher is setting up to receive an intentional base-on-balls.
While the remaining fielders usually line up at near first, second, shortstop, third, and in the three outfield positions; they are technically allowed to position themselves anywhere in fair territory. [5.02(c)] This allows defensive teams to deploy shifts, when appropriate.
Catcher Position on Intentional Walk
While the pitcher is delivering a pitch during an intentional base on balls, the catcher must have both feet within the catcher’s box at the time the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand. If he fails to do this, a balk will be called on the pitcher. However, the enforcement of this rule has become lax over recent years and catchers routinely leave their catcher’s box early but no balk is called
KNOW THIS: A pitcher may change to a defensive position other than pitcher only once per inning. The pitcher can return to the mound during same inning, but after so doing he may not leave the mound again in that inning unless he is removed from the game.
Pitching Sub: [Insider Report]
2016 Pitching Sub
The Cubs used three pitchers in left field during an extra inning game in Cincinnati on June 28, 2016. There is a rule pertaining to a pitcher switching from pitcher to another defensive position. Learn this rule and read about this unusual game in this Insider Report.