Adding Soundness to the Rotation Play
What we have done to add soundness to our version of the rotation play is eliminate the slash vulnerability from the design. Our pitchers orchestrate the movement of our infielders. When the pitcher moves his hands to the set position the infielders’ choreographed movements begin. Simultaneously, the third baseman crashes to the plate, the shortstop sprints to cover third, the second baseman attacks the runner at second and the first baseman widens toward second to protect against the potential slash. The pitcher, once he ensures that the runner on second has retreated respecting the second baseman’s movement toward him, delivers a high strike and then breaks to cover the first base side of the field. The third baseman has half the field which includes all bunts from the third baseline to the middle of the field. As the second baseman approaches second base he is hollering “ball, ball, ball”. If the runner retreats toward second base he then continues to the area vacated by the shortstop in case of the slash. If the runner does not respect the attacking second baseman, he is coached to stop at the base and expect a pick from the pitcher.
Our philosophy in all of our bunt situations is to maintain an aggressive approach. We are always looking to get the lead runner in every situation. Our pitchers are coached to always look for the out of the lead runner. Then if they cannot get the lead runner take the out at first. Don’t acquiesce the out ala the major leagues. With our design of the rotation play it is not uncommon for us to get a double play out of this situation. Once the first base ensures that there no slash attempt, he moves back to cover first base expecting the throw from the shortstop for the completion of the double play. Regardless of how good the bunt appears to be, if the pitcher has guaranteed that the runner at second base has retreated, he should be an easy out at third.
This is our version of the rotation play and our hope that it has opened some eyes as to how to add soundness to a great defensive ploy. Also a key coaching point is that the rotation play cannot be used on successive plays. If a well-coached team sees the rotation play on successive plays, you will be slashed upon, guaranteed. Teams may miss the first rotation play but surely not the second.