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Balk Ruled When Pitcher Throws to 3B and Fielder is Too Far from the Base

A legitimate pick-off attempt requires that the base to which the pitcher throws is covered by a fielder. The umpire must make a determination if the fielder is close enough to the base to retire the runner with the throw. If not, a balk should be called.

By rule, the pitcher is charged with a balk while in contact with the rubber when he throws to the first baseman or third baseman who is either in front of or behind the base and obviously not making an attempt to retire the runner at that base.  Several years ago the rule was only directed at the first baseman but was subsequently changed to include the third baseman. In the Yankees- Orioles game on…

By rule, the pitcher is charged with a balk while in contact with the rubber when he throws to the first baseman or third baseman who is either in front of or behind the base and obviously not making an attempt to retire the runner at that base.  Several years ago the rule was only directed at the first baseman but was subsequently changed to include the third baseman. In the Yankees- Orioles game on…

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...at least one base the same as the balk penalty anyway. Thus, the runner is still protected which is the purpose of the balk rule.

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