Is a team committed to a pinch hitter substitution, even if the hitter never gets to bat?
August 14, 2009 7:32 PM   Subscribe

In MLB, if a pinch hitter enters the on-deck circle to warm up, but the side is retired before he actually gets up to bat, does the team still have to go through with the substitution? Or can they 'back out'?

Just a silly question that's been bugging me for a couple weeks.
posted by csimpkins to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total)
No, they're not committed. The substitution doesn't take place until he enters the batter's box.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:38 PM on August 14, 2009

Chocolate Pickle is correct. The manager doesn't bring the new lineup card to the ump until it's the pinch-hitter's turn.
posted by ORthey at 7:39 PM on August 14, 2009

CP is indeed correct. The rule is 3.08(a)(2):
...the substitute shall be considered as
having entered the game when—

(1) If a pitcher, he takes his place on the pitcher’s plate;

(2) If a batter, he takes his place in the batter’s box;

(3) If a fielder, he reaches the position usually occupied by the fielder he has
replaced, and play commences;

(4) If a runner, he takes the place of the runner he has replaced.

The "player called back from the on-deck circle" is a very common happening in baseball. Managers even put a player in the on-deck circle as a ruse sometimes, never intended to let them bat.
posted by rokusan at 7:42 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

Managers even put a player in the on-deck circle as a ruse sometimes, never intended to let them bat.

This occasionally creates a hilarious do-si-so wherein the batting team pinch hits a left-hander to face a right-handed pitcher, so the pitching team calls for a lefty, so the pinch hitter is replaced with a righty, so they call for a lefty, etc etc.
posted by SpiffyRob at 4:49 AM on August 15, 2009

Incorrect, SpiffyRob. The pitcher, once announced, much pitch to one batter unless injured, ejected, or the inning end via baserunner putout (pickoff, caught stealing, etc.)

The batter may be replaced, and so you can have a pinch hitter for a pinch hitter. Pretty rare in the days of 12-man pitching staffs and few bench hitters, though.
posted by stevis23 at 7:08 AM on August 15, 2009

The pitcher, once announced, much pitch to one batter unless injured, ejected

Although that's true it is not uncommon for the two managers to try and play chicken in terms of who is subbing for who, depending on the matchups, and up until someone is actually announced.

And, any excuse to link to Switch Pitcher vs Switch Hitter is good enough for me.
posted by dirtdirt at 9:17 AM on August 15, 2009 [2 favorites]

Interesting example of switch-hitters and switch-pitchers from this NYT article:

A switch-pitcher facing a switch-hitter could make a fine Abbott and Costello routine. Against Nebraska last year, a switch-hitter came to the plate right-handed, prompting Venditte to switch to his right arm, which caused the batter to move to the left-hand batter’s box, with Venditte switching his arm again. Umpires ultimately restored order, applying the rule (the same as that in the majors) that a pitcher must declare which arm he will use before throwing his first pitch and cannot change before the at-bat ends.
posted by madh at 12:16 PM on August 15, 2009

Sorry, I wasn't clear. I didn't mean "calls for" as in "calls out", but rather has them warming in the bullpen. What dirtdirt said.
posted by SpiffyRob at 5:08 AM on August 17, 2009

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