Baseball Instruction/Balk/ pick off

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Question
Can a right handed pitcher, with man on 1st, step to second and 1) throw to second without a balk and 2) step to second and throw to 1st?  Is stepping to second count as stepping off the rubber like it does if a man is on 3rd?

Answer
Chad,

A pitcher cannot step to an unoccupied base while in contact with the rubber, unless the move is to attempt to put out a runner attempting to advance to that base.

Additionally, a pitcher must gain distance and direction toward the base in which he is attempting to pick-off a runner.

Lastly, in Official Baseball Rules (those used by MLB), a right-handed pitcher can no longer step toward third without throwing there. In effect, the old third-to-first move is illegal.

In short, in all three of your scenarios, the umpire should call a balk.

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Andrew Senger

Expertise

Anything related to baseball rules.

Experience

I am a baseball umpire. I am certified for High School (NFHS), and work in Missouri (MSHSAA). I umpire baseball from high school through adults, focusing mainly on high school-aged games.

Organizations
NFHS - National Federation of High Schools MSHSAA - Missouri State High School Athletic Association GSLAU - Greater St. Louis Association of Umpires

Education/Credentials
I have attended numerous training lessons on umpiring. Many of these lessons including Rules Interpretations.

Past/Present Clients
Mid-American Umpire Clinic - 2010

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