What does the verbal communication mean in the infield?
Throughout the history of baseball, both verbal and nonverbal signs have been delivered as a form of communication to and from players, coaches and managers from the same team as a way to disguise or hide various types of strategy and intentions. When communication comes from a coach or manager it is usually done in the form of nonverbal signs or a sequence of signs to a hitter, baserunner or the defense. This type of language or form of communication is the most obvious form of interaction that the average fan is able to see when watching on TV. It certainly does not mean the transmission of the sign will be known to the fan, let alone the
opposition, but it is a well known practice to most who watch the game. This nonverbal system is primary approach that is used most, similar to one learning sign language or reading lips.
There is, however, a very standard form of verbal communication that is used in the infield by each infielder when situations apply in games (and failing to do so is my top pet peeve of infielders). The following is a look at some of the primary verbal cues infielders need to communicate when the communication is necessary.
1. Remind the second baseman to talk on ground balls in the 3-4 hole. If the second baseman can make the verbal call immediately, “ball, ball, ball” the first baseman can release back to the base.
2. Remind the catcher on throws coming from the plate area on bunts or strike three in the dirt, “inside” or “outside”.
3. Remind the pitcher, “I got it”, “I got it”, when fielding a ground ball that the first baseman will take for unassisted putout.
4. Remind the middle infielders to “tag” when the first out is made at first base on a double play.
5. Remind the pitcher, “my base” or “I got it”, on 3-6-3 double plays.
6. Remind the catcher when a baserunner is breaking for second base on a steal break, “runner”.
7. On bunt coverage, “ball, ball, ball”, when calling off the pitcher or catcher.
1. On ground balls to the 3-4 hole, “ball, ball, ball” when calling off the first baseman.
2. Remind SS on double play balls, “my base”, when ground ball is fielded by pitcher and it has been determined the second baseman will be the front end defender at the base.
3. On a 5-4-3, remind the third baseman “two, two, two" to start the double play.
4. Remind the SS when turning the front end of a double play, “flip, flip”, when starting the DP with an underhand toss.
5. Remind the third baseman, on 3-2 counts, two out, baserunner (s) on first base or first and second, “one, one, one”, as they are baserunner(s) in motion and there will be little chance to get the third out at second base.
6. On bunt plays, remind or call off the first baseman, “I got it (the base), I got it”, for base coverage.
7. For base coverage on steals or hit and run, open mouth, “you”, (the SS), close mouth, “me”, (the 2B).
8. On unassisted DP’s, “I got it”, to remind SS there will be no flip.
1. On ground balls in the 5-6 hole, “me, me, me”, when taking charge on the third baseman.
2. “I may come your way”, on a ground ball taking the SS toward the 5-6 hole, with baserunner on second base.
3. “I got base, I got base’, on comebacker with baserunner on first base. Coverage may change to the 2B, if the nature of the ball takes the SS away from the base, before the pitcher fields the ball.
4. “You and me”, as a reminder to the pitcher on a ground ball back to him with a baserunner on first base, to start a 1-6-3.
5. Remind the third baseman “one, one, one”, on 3-2 counts, two out, with a baserunner(s) at first base or first and second base, to make the long throw to end the inning.
6. “Flip”, flip”, on underhand front ends to start the DP.
7. For base coverage on steals or hit and run, same as the 2B, switch coverage on slower bat hitters.
8. On unassisted DP’s, “I got it”, to remind the 2B, that there will be no flip toss.
1. On bunted balls, “ball, ball, ball”, to remind catcher and pitcher that you have baseball priority.
2. “Me, me, me”, when cutting off a groundball in the 5-6 hole.
3. “Let me know”, to the SS if the baserunner at second base is moving toward third base in an attempted steal.
It is obvious the amount of verbal communication is extensive to say the least. Much of any of this communication is based on game awareness, experience and developed instinct. Additionally, there is an abundance of other forms of verbal communication that all play a significant role in the success of any team. So, next time you are at a game, learn to listen to the game inside the game and take note of the frequent use of nonverbal and verbal forms of communication that is being used.
If you have your own verbal cues not mentioned in this blog, I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.
Rick Johnston, Head Instructor - The Baseball Zone
PS - Hope you can join us for our upcoming workshop "Turning the 'Routine' Double Play" on October 23. Click below for details.