Monday, April 8, 2013

Rule 8.01(f) – Ambidextrous Pitchers - Little League Rule Change

Ambidextrous Pitcher Rule for Little League

The following rule has been added governing ambidextrous pitchers: 

8.01(f) A pitcher must indicate visually to the umpire-in-chief, the batter and any runners the hand with which he/she intends to pitch, which may be done by wearing his/her glove on the other hand while touching the pitcher’s plate. 

The pitcher is not permitted to pitch with the other hand until the batter is retired, the batter becomes a runner, the inning ends, the batter is substituted for by a pinch-hitter or the pitcher incurs an injury. 

In the event a pitcher switches pitching hands during an at-bat because he/she has suffered an injury, the pitcher may not, for the remainder of the game, pitch with the hand from which he/she has switched. 

The pitcher shall not be given the opportunity to throw any preparatory pitches after switching pitching hands. Any change of pitching hands must be indicated clearly to the umpire-in-chief. 

Previously, there was no restriction on when or how a pitcher might switch from right-handed to left-handed or vice versa. 



Comment regarding preparatory pitches

Prior to this new rule, some umpires would let the switch pitcher have a few warmup pitches the first time they changed pitching arms. The throws allowed the pitcher to calibrate their pitches and it usually took less than a minute. Essentially, the umpires wanted the player to throw strikes and they treated the ambidextrous pitcher like a reliever (which is a good idea). The warmup throws also gave the batter an opportunity to watch the pitcher before their turn at bat.

Talk to the umpires before the game starts

During the coaches & umpires meeting before the game, I would let the umpires know that an ambidextrous pitcher might throw from both sides during the game. The head umpire would let me know if the switch pitcher was allowed warmup throws after changing hands. They usually thought it was a good idea for a pitcher to have warmup throws (for arm health) and be ready on the mound to throw strikes.

Warmup both arms in the bullpen 

The switch pitcher would warmup both arms in the bullpen prior to taking the mound. During warmup on the mound, they would split their warmup pitches between arms - four throws each.

Game strategies for an experienced ambidextrous pitcher

Typically, an experienced switch pitcher will use the platoon advantage – pitching lefty to left-handed batters, and righty to right-handed batters. 

Early in the season, it works well to pitch only from one side in an inning. Start out pitching with the non-dominant arm, then change to the dominant arm when needed. This helps the pitcher to maintain rhythm and command pitches.

Some switch pitchers throw lefty in one game, then throw righty later in the week. 


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