Saturday, October 6, 2012

Rule 6.02(b): Cueto Injury and Why Ump Did Not Grant Time

After prematurely stopping his delivery, Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto succumbed to a game-ending injury with just one out in the bottom of the first inning of Saturday's NLDS matchup between Cincinnati and the San Francisco Giants.

During his first at-bat facing Giants center fielder Angel Pagan, Pagan requested Cuzzi call "Time" as Cueto prepared to pitch. Cuzzi did not grant Pagan's request, remaining in his position behind home plate in anticipation of a Cueto freebie. However, Cueto had seen Pagan's request and noticed Pagan had left the batter's box in anticipation of a "Time" call and incorrectly assuming Pagan's actions constituted "Time," Cueto stopped his pitching motion mid-delivery, placing himself at risk of injury.

For his part, Cuzzi was correct not to grant "Time," as his actions were supported by OBR 6.02(b) [NOTE: As of 2014, the rule has been renumbered as 5.04(b)(2)]:
The batter shall not leave his position in the batter’s box after the pitcher comes to Set Position, or starts his windup.
PENALTY: If the pitcher pitches, the umpire shall call “Ball” or “Strike,” as the case may be.
Furthermore, the rules' associated comment states, "Umpires will not call 'Time' at the request of the batter or any member of his team once the pitcher has started his windup or has come to a set position even though the batter claims 'dust in his eyes,' 'steamed glasses,' 'didn’t get the sign' or for any other cause."

Though Cueto was forced to leave the contest due to back spasms nary one batter later, the umpire's no-call was certainly correct while this sequence demonstrates that violations of Rule 6.02(b) can and do result in injury and umpires accordingly should not hesitate to deny a batter's improper request for "Time."

Video: Cueto exits with an injury exacerbated by throwing several pitches after violently ceasing his motion


Harlan said...

Now do I seem so freackin' crazy? Everyone in baseball expects time to be granted in these spots, even if the pitch is halfway to home plate. This was bound to happen, even though Cuzzi did exactly the right thing.

Anonymous said...

Around here we call it the UEFL Curse. You say something off beat, unusual or otherwise like an umpire who hasn't ejected in a while and just days later (many times it's the same or next day) that umpire has an ejection or, in this case, a pitcher gets hurt because he suddenly stops throwing in the middle of his delivery. Prophetic.

Anonymous said...

Pitchers are taught from day one in the minors, that once they are major league into their motion to keep going and deliver the pitch no matter what, just like going to first on anything hit to the right side of the infield with nobody on. He has only himself to blame for not listening to the basics of what he was taught.

Austin said...

I don't think there's going to be much discussion on this one. It was the correct call (as everyone seems to be in agreement about), and Cueto should have just delivered the pitch...I have a feeling if it was anywhere close, Cuzzi probably would have called strike three.

Anonymous said...

Not only was this called correctly, Cueto was also hurting well before the pitch. You could even see him stretch his back before that aborted pitch.

Anonymous said...

See pitchers doing this all the time (pulling up)when time IS called late & don't understand their thinking. As one ex-pitcher turned broadcaster put it- he was taught you always complete so as not to risk injury. Not only that- it's a free shot- throw at the batter's back foot called 'giving a hot foot'

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