Today we’re looking at all some of the expressions you might have heard yelled from the bench when runners are on the go.
Back is generally yelled out because someone on the offense sees a motion or a signal that indicates the ball is going to be thrown to the bag in order to pick off the runner.
When you hear “back” you generally see a base runner diving for the bag. That’s because, when the ball is live base runners have to be in contact with the bag or risk being tagged out while off the base.
As most tags will come from a throw the runner goes low assuming the throw will be at chest level or higher. Seeing a runner has to be tagged to be out, going under the tag means there is another step the defensive player has to take to get them out.
Beat the throw
In an uncaught third strike situation the catcher can sometimes have a hard time getting their hand on the ball. When that happens teammates of the runner will encourage them to ‘beat the throw.’ This lets them know they have an opportunity to make it to base safely if they run hard. The same might also be shouted during a bunt situation.
Dig it out
This means run as fast as you can. You will often hear this yelled when a player has bunted. Generally the expectation is you will be thrown out at first on a bunt. If the defense is having a hard time putting a glove the ball, you will hear the offense yell, ‘Dig it out!’, to let their teammate know they have an opportunity to arrive safely.
You will hear a bench yell, “Get Down!”, when the ball is being thrown at the runner in a close situation and the runner is not in a position to see the direction of the ball. This tells the runner the play will be close and their best option is to get down and work to avoid the tag. When you change your height that can throw off the tagger, especially if you do it late. You also allow yourself to swing around the tag by getting lower to the ground.
Run It Out
When a player is walked you should notice they run to first and take their base with a good deal of purpose and energy. If that doesn’t happen, you may hear someone say to them, “Run it out.” They are being reminded to stay active and engaged in the game, not taking anything for granted.
Along with run it out you might hear someone say, “A walk’s as good as a run”, especially in intentional walk situations. This is a way of reminding the batter that though they didn’t hit the ball, they are on base and it is their choice whether to take advantage of the situation or to be frustrated by it.
This happens a lot with sluggers. They get so used to having multiple base runs that they sometimes feel like an intentional walk is a way of holding them back. They can also get a bit lazy on the bags after growing accustom to having multi-base runs time and again. Run it out is a great reminder to pick up the pace and stretch those doubles into triples.
The opposite of get down is stay up. When a runner is heading around the bases and has their back to the ball, being told to stay up or stand up lets them know they are not at risk of being tagged out and can come into the base safely standing up.
If someone is saying the words tag up, it generally isn’t yelled at a player but rather about a play, “Did he tag up?”
You shouldn’t hear someone tell the runner to tag up at the professional level for a few reasons. First, most professionals know enough to tag up – or put their foot back on the base – between each play. Not doing so leaves them open to being thrown out.
More importantly, if you vocalize for a player to tag up you alert the defense that they may have a play. If they hear you and your runner doesn’t, you’ve just set your own player up to be tagged out.
There you have it. Another language lesson from the bench.