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Playing Like a Pro in Baseball

We’re going to concentrate here on the footwork used to make the DP from this strategically important infield position. Primarily, three things are involved: get to the base quickly so the shortstop or third baseman doesn’t have to hold up his throw. Tag the base while in possession of the ball. Make a strong throw from a point away from the base.

The third item is the toughest, although the professionals make it look easy. The professional can use six or more different steps to make the DP. The amateur should learn at least three.

The spot where the shortstop fields the ball generally tells the second baseman which step he must use; it indicates whether he is to go “inside” the diamond to make his throw, “out” (toward center field), or “back” (toward right field).

Second basemen use several combinations of steps to make a put-out and relay of ball to 1st for DP. To go “inside,” the second baseman puts his left foot on the bag and propels his body into the diamond as far as possible. Naturally, he lands on his right foot. As he does so, he shifts his weight to that right foot, then strides left toward 1st and makes the throw.

To go “back,” the second baseman puts his left foot against the bag. After catching the ball for the put-out, he pushes back into right field, landing on the right foot, stepping left for the throw. He can go “out” by placing the left foot against the center field side of the base; pushing toward center after the catch, landing right and stepping left to throw.

Some managers first teach the second baseman to step on 2nd base with the right foot and to throw off that foot. This may be alright if the ball arrives at 2nd long before the runner. If it’s going to be close, however, the second baseman will often find the runner between him and 1st, blocking both his vision and throw.

In addition, he’s apt to be knocked down by the runner. All of these moves should be part of a continuous motion. If, however, the second baseman gets to the base and the shortstop fumbles the ball, he can straddle the base with the left foot on the 1st base side and the right foot on the opposite side. (Like the first baseman, he has to “know” where the base is while awaiting the throw.) When he catches the ball in this position, he can touch the bag with the inside of his left foot and throw off the right.

If the runner is sliding (as he should be on a close play), he can raise the left leg to “let the runner in.” With the base between the runner and the throwing foot, the second baseman avoids being spiked, or otherwise injured. (When there’s no opportunity or need to throw to 1st, second sacker can play the base as the first baseman would, pushing toward the throw.)