When you bat after the pitcher
By: Coach Bob McCreary
Provided by: Baseball By The Yard
At the levels below pro ball, you may find the pitcher batting anywhere in the line-up. On many high school teams and even some college teams, the pitcher may be one of the best hitters on the team and often is located in the center of the batting line-up. Of course, at the pro level, pitchers are either DH'd for or bat ninth. If you look carefully at the major league level, you will find that those who bat after the pitcher – lead off and second batter mostly – will often do some unusual things every now and then. Basically, they waste a lot of time.
Whether you are on-deck or walking up to the plate, be a human rain delay and waste some time for your pitchers
Pitching can use up a lot of energy over the course of the game. When you add batting and base running on top of that, it's clear why coaches will DH for the pitcher if they can. Resting that pitcher between innings is important to any team's success. But as I said above, sometimes the pitcher is needed in the line up for a team to have the best chance of winning. When he is needed, won't he get tired out much quicker? Not if the batters who follow him in the line-up do what they're supposed to do.
Below is a list of things batters and coaches should do to help the pitcher conserve/regain as much energy as possible.
• If you bat after the pitcher makes an out at the plate or on the base paths, take your sweet time walking up to to batter's box. Be a human rain delay to allow the pitcher a chance to get off the field and sit down in the dugout. Take a couple more practice swings, mess with your batting gloves, add some more pine tar, basically doing anything to stall. Make the umpire call you up to the plate. My rule of thumb was to not leave the on-deck circle until the pitcher got back to the dugout. I'd then start my slow walk to the batter's box to allow him to sit and have a drink. This is even more the case when there are two outs.
• If the situation permits, you'll also see the following batter take a strike or at least the first pitch of the at-bat to give the pitcher even more time.
• If your league permits it, take more time in between pitches as well. Once again, an extra practice swing or two, adjusting batting gloves, etc. can allow the pitcher more time to rest after an at-bat and/or base running.
• Be sure to talk to your players about the importance of helping pitchers out in these situations.
• Call time-out and have a conference with the next batter when the pitcher is coming off the field. Keep talking until the umpire keeps the game moving. When I did this, I would just tell the batter, "Nothing you need from me. I'm just talking to you to allow the pitcher some time. When I'm done, take your time walking back to the plate."
• Tell your pitchers to be respectful of what their teammates are doing for them. A pet-peeve of mine was doing all this for a pitcher who would go back to the dugout and continue to walk around to chat with teammates, totally oblivious to the fact that I was delaying things and even taking strikes so he could recover. Be sure that pitchers know their role in this as well. Tell them to get a drink and sit down!
All these tips go practically unnoticed by the average baseball fan. However, baseball people like coaches, scouts, and especially pitchers will appreciate them.