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Old Sun May 05, 2002, 07:37pm
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Need some help. Scenario: a runner on first base. RHP in front of, and in contact with the pitcher's plate. Pitcher turns left shoulder toward first base. Using Major League Baseball rule 8.01 (b) ...the pitcher may elect to make any natural preliminary motion such as that known as "the stretch." Is the pitcher's action of opening his left shoulder toward first base considered "a natural preliminary motion?" Or is this motion considered a "balk?" Thanks. -Dave
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Old Mon May 06, 2002, 01:07am
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There is no rule in MLB that says it is a balk if the pitcher, while in contact rubber, opens his shoulder to a base. That rule is specific to the Fed.

However, I believe Childress reports in the 2002 BRD that he obtained a ruling that in OBR it would be considered a balk if this were done after coming set.

Most I know who call under OBR use their judgement to determine if the opening of the shoulder appeared to initiate a move to a base. If so, they will balk it; if not, then it's nothing. Generally a slow and non-sudden opening in looking to a base is not considered a move to that base.

If the opening of the shoulder during his "natural preliminary motion" were sudden and simulated a move, it would not be allowed merely because a pitcher were to do it everytime. It would still be illegal. That's no different than if a pitcher were to incorporate a fake throw to 1B as part of every stretching motion he took. The action is illegal, and doing it everytime will never cause it to be legal with the excuse that is part of his "natural preliminary motion."

Just my opinion,


[Edited by Bfair on May 6th, 2002 at 01:15 AM]
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