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Bunt D's and picks: Four defenses and five Pick-Offs for critical bunt situations. (Baseball).

AS BASEBALL COACHES, all of us have won or lost games by the way we implemented our critical bunt and pick-off situations.

At Frostburg State, we spend a lot of quality time on our four bunt defenses and five pick-off plays. Good defense demands intense study, a lot of repetitions, and confidence.

We start by giving each player a notebook that illustrates and explains each play and requires him to learn all of them.

We go through each play in the classroom and then move out to the field and walk through them, touching on each player's specific responsibilities. We emphasize the point that just one mistake can ruin an otherwise great defensive play and cost us the game.

Once our players understand their responsibilities, we will run though the situations with the coaching staff calling the plays.

To make the offensive and defensive situations realistic, we divide the squad into teams and run the scoreboard, using different scenarios, such as "late in the game with winning or go-ahead run on first."

This gives both teams a chance to execute under the same pressure they will encounter throughout the season.

A quick note on pick-offs: It is up to the individual coach to devise a set of signals for pick-off plays off his defenses.

The signal is given to the 3rd baseman from the dugout, just as in a game, and the 3rd baseman relaying the sign to the infielders.

On regular pick-offs, the signal will dugout to the catcher, to the infielders, and then to the outfielders. The three outfielders will be expected to back up the appropriate bases.

RELATED ARITCLE: Bunt Defense #1, man on first early in the game:

P fields position on first-base side, come-backers, and immediate right.

C fields balls in front of plate and covers 3rd if 3rd baseman comes in to field the ball.

1B fields balls that pass by the P; covers 1st if P fields bunt.

2B is prepared to field hard bunt between P and 1st baseman; if 1st baseman fields bunt, covers 1st.

3B charges bunt, fields everything to P's right.

SS covers 2nd.

LF backs up 3rd in case runner breaks for bag.

CF backs up 2nd.

RF backs up 1st in case of wild throw.

Coaching point:

Getting the out at 1st base is the primary objective, only throw to 2nd if you're you sure can get the out. Example: come-backer to P.

BUNT DEFENSE #2, winning run on 1st in sacrifice situation late in game:

BUNT DEFENSE #3, runner at 2nd or 1st and 2nd early in the game:

P fields position to right, come-backers, and immediate left.

C fields position around plate.

1B charges in a controlled manner and fields balls to P's left.

2B covers 1st; if 1st baseman covers the bag, assumes back-up position.

3B covers 3rd, read bail; if bunt passes the P, make the play.

SS covers 2nd.

LF backs up 3rd.

CF backs up 2nd.

RF backs up 1st.

Coaching Points:

1. Primary objective is to get an out primarily at 1st.

2. Only attempt to get an out at 2nd or 3rd if bunt is a come-backer and fielder is 100% sure he can get the out.

P fields come-backers in a position to make a good throw to 2nd.

C fields position in front of plate ready to make good throw to 2nd.

1B charges, fields ball on glove side of body, makes good throw to 2nd.

2B covers 1st to ensure an out in case the out at 2nd is not an option.

3B charges, fields ball on glove side in position to make a good throw to 2nd.

SS covers 2B in manner of a 1st baseman, enabling him to stretch and adjust to bad throws.

LF backs up 3rd base in case a wild throw results in the runner moving to 3rd.

CF backs up 2nd.

RF backs up 1st in case the out at 2nd is not an option.

Coaching Points:

1. Infielders must charge with intent of fielding ball cleanly on glove-hand side and making a good throw to 2nd.

2. Always try to hold runner on 1st close with several pick-offs prior to running this play.

3. If a good bunt is laid down with no chance of getting the out at 2nd, get the out at 1st.

BUNT DEFENSE #4, wheel play with runners at 1st or 2nd, with winning or go-ahead run on 2nd:

P holds runner on 2nd close. Upon seeing daylight between SS and runner, throws to plate. Fields bunt in good position to throw to 3rd.

C fields bunt out in front of plate in position to make a strong throw to 3rd.

1B charges, gets body in best position to field bunt cleanly and quickly and make a good throw to 3rd.

2B hesitates in case of a hard bunt through P and 1st baseman, then covers 1st in case the out at 3rd isn't an option.

3B charges and fields bunt in good position for strong throw to 3rd.

SS comes around in front of runner on his way to cover 3rd. Once at 3rd, he becomes a 1st baseman, enabling him to stretch or adjust to bad throws.

LF backs up 3rd in case of wild throw.

CF backs up 2nd.

RF backs up 1st in case of wild throw.

Coaching Points:

1. We like to bring the SS in front of the runner. By doing this repeatedly, he will induce the runner to begin moving with him, enabling us to sneak the 2nd baseman in for a pick, as in Pick-Off #4.

2. The P and 2nd baseman must hold the runner close to help ensure a force at 3rd.

3. The P must wait for daylight between the SS and runner to make sure he has time to get to 3rd.

4. Fielders must field the ball with their bodies already in position to make a good throw to 3rd.

5. If the runner at 3rd will be the go-ahead run, the out at 3rd must be attempted.

6. If the runner at 3rd will be the winning run, the throw must be made, even if the chances are slim.

7. If a perfect bunt is executed with no chance of getting the out at 3rd, infielders must take the out at 1st so as not to create a bases-loaded with no out situation.

PICK-OFF #1, runners at 1st and 3rd:

C signals to infielders and P for the pick-off to first, then checks the 1st baseman. At the first movement of the 1st baseman, C drops his glove and P throws to first.

1B plays behind the runner and breaks to bag after P comes to set position.

2B is ready in case of a run-down.

3B covers 3rd in case of a run-down between 2nd and 3rd.

SS covers 2nd in case of rundown.

LF assumes backup position behind 3rd.

CF backs up 2nd.

RF receives signal that pick is on and cheats over to line up back of 1st in case of an errant throw.

Coaching Points:

1. It's a good idea to have 1st baseman tip his hat to C to verify reception of sign.

2. 1st baseman should bait runner into getting a bigger lead by playing farther from the bag.

3. A sign must be given to RF to let him know the pick is on.

Pick-Off #2, runner on 2nd or runners on 1st and 2nd:

P receives pick-off signal from C, then waits for C's glove drop and throw to 2nd.

C gives pick-off signal to infielders and then to P; waits for the 2nd infielder to break and then drops glove for the P's throw.

1B plays normal infield depth.

2B communicates with SS on who will cover bag. If 2B is covering 2nd, he waits for SS to break toward bag and then back to his position again. 2B will then break for bag for the throw. If 2nd baseman is not covering bag, he becomes a decoy.

3B is ready in case of run-down.

SS communicates with 2nd baseman who will cover bag. If SS is covering, he waits for 2nd baseman to break for bag and then return to 2nd, as SS breaks over for the throw. If SS is not covering bag, he becomes the decoy.

LF, CF, and RF are given signal that the pick is on and cover back up throw accordingly.

Coaching Points:

1. C must be precise in dropping his glove at infielder's first movement to the bag.

2. Infielders must take cognizance of P's movement so that they do not get to bag too early or too late.

PICK-OFF #3, from catcher using Bunt Defense #2:

P receives pitchout-out signal from C and delivers fastball to plate.

C receives bunt defense sign from 3rd baseman, then calls a pitch-out and delivers a strong throw to the left side of 1st base.

1B charges while yelling "Bunt!"

2B waits for P to lift his leg to go to plate, then covers 1st for throw.

3B gives bunt-defense sign to infielders, then charges while yelling "Bunt!"

SS covers 2nd in case a run-down or errant throw causes runner to advance to 2nd.

LF receives signal that pick is on and backs up 2nd.

CF receives pick sign and backs up 2nd.

RF receives pick sign and backs up 1st.

Coaching points:

1. Pick-off sign must be relayed to RF in case of a bad throw.

2. 1st baseman should play off bag a little farther than normal, encouraging runner to get a bigger secondary lead.

3. A good time to run this play is right after running the regular Bunt Defense #2, since you are making it obvious that you are trying to get the out at 2nd by encouraging the back runner to get a larger secondary lead.

PICK-OFF #4, run off Bunt Defense #4:

P receives signal from 3rd baseman, waits for daylight between SS and runner, then throws to 2nd.

C gives pick-off sign to P.

1B charges (yelling "Bunt!) when P comes set.

2B waits for SS to come directly in front of runner and then breaks to 2nd to receive the throw.

3B charges, yelling "Bunt!", then returns to 3rd in case of a run-down.

SS comes around in front of runner just as in Bunt Defense #4.

LF, CF, RF receive signal that pick is on and then back up bases accordingly.

Coaching Points:

1. The one pick-off play from the P in which the C doesn't drop his glove. P waits for the SS to pass in front of the runner, then throws to 2nd.

2. The 2nd baseman must consider the strength of the P's move to avoid going to the bag too early.

3. Outfielders must get the signal that the back-up may be needed behind 2nd.

PICK-OFF #5, off Bunt Defense #4:

P receives signal from C and delivers fastball to plate.

C gives pitch-out signal to P and delivers a strong throw to left side of 2nd.

1B charges while yelling "Bunt!"

2B waits for C to receive ball, then breaks to cover bag.

3B charges, yelling "Bunt!"

SS comes around in front of runner, just as in Bunt Defense #4.

LF, CF, RF receive sign that the pick up is on and to cover the area behind 2nd base for errant throws.

Coaching Points:

1. A great time to run this play is on the first pitch to the hitter. If you do not pick off the runner, you will at least shorten his lead on the following pitch and increase your chances of getting the force at 3rd.

2. Another good time for this play is on the pitch after putting on Bunt Defense #4. Since you have made it obvious that you are going for the out at 3rd, the runner will be encouraged to increase his secondary lead - bettering your chances of picking him off.

3. Works best with a strong-armed catcher. If C has an average arm, you might be better off running Pick-Off #4.
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Author:McKnight, Chris
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2002
Words:2025
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