We asked Boston Red
Sox Shortstop Nomar Garciaparra
to give you some tips on becoming a better shortstop.
Boston Red Sox
With runners not on base, how do you field your
Nomar Garciaparra: It depends on who's hitting. If
you have a right-hander up and he has a tendency to pull the
ball, and you check out the way your pitcher is throwing, then
you might cheat over a little bit into the hole -- maybe try
to cover the hole between short and third a little bit more.
For the most part, it's kind of hard to say what straight up
is. When a lefty is up you have a tendency to shade more
toward second base also determining on who the hitter is and
who's pitching. You're a little bit back, I play maybe one or
two steps from the grass on the dirt. Every (field) is cut
different, it varies, but that's basically the general area in
which I'm standing.
How do you field your position on double play ground
balls to either side of the infield?
Garciaparra: When the ground ball is hit to me, I've
got to stay down and make sure I catch the ball first, that's
the key. Then I'm going to pivot myself to throw a good, firm
throw to my second baseman. The analogy I use to throw the
ball is -- it's kind of like a dart, so it's an overhand
(throw), it's not a full windup it's not a full throw -- it's
a dart so (the second baseman) can control it and handle
themselves to turn a double play. When it's hit to the
opposite side (of the field), from the second baseman to me,
I've got to position myself with my shoulders square to the
guy who's going to be throwing me the ball so I can move
either way. I keep my hands close when it comes to me, I catch
it and I rotate my body so I can point my left shoulder toward
first base so I can make a nice, accurate throw.
Who decides which player will take the ball at second
base when the catcher throws down to throw out a runner?
Garciaparra: It depends on who the batter is -- if
it's a right-handed batter the tendency is that the second
baseman is going to take the throw rather than the shortstop
taking the throw if the guy does steal. Because there is a
chance that the batter may swing and hit the ball. You always
assume the guy may pull the ball, that's taken into
consideration. If you really don't know the guy (how he hits),
you're going to assume that he's going to pull the ball, so
you don't want to leave that hole wide open if he does happen
to swing and there's a guy stealing -- so the second baseman
will cover the base. If it's a left-hander the shortstop will
cover the base when a guy is stealing. Those are basically the
rules of thumb.
Who decides which player will catch the ball when it's
popped up near second base?
Garciaparra: The first the thing about a pop-up is
to make the play. No matter who's going to make the play, just
make it. Whoever can see the ball better, or whoever is coming
through. But the guy who is in charge of the infield is the
shortstop. If he calls for the ball, everybody lets him take
it. If it doesn't call for it, or if somebody else calls it,
whoever calls it and feels they're under it, (the shortstop
is) more than welcome to let the other guy take it -- it's a
matter of who may be under it. But, if there's two guys
calling it, the shortstop should take precedence and they
usually let him take it over -- he's the guy in charge.
When a runner is rounding third and heading home, where
do you position yourself on the field when the ball is hit to
centerfield and to leftfield?
Garciaparra: When the ball is hit to leftfield, I
will position myself at third base. The third baseman is going
to be the relay guy from the outfield to home and the (runner)
is going to score. I have to be standing by third base just in
case the guy stops on his way home, or if he's in a rundown --
somebody has to be covering that base. The shortstop should be
there covering third base because the third baseman is off his
base for the relay throw from the outfield. When (the ball) is
hit to centerfield, I'll be covering second base because the
first baseman usually comes in to be the relay home. The
second baseman will go over to cover first base to make sure
the guy who hit the ball doesn't advance to second if it's a
single. I have to stand on second base waiting there, so it
doesn't give the runner the opportunity to advance to second.
So everything is basically covered.
How can a shortstop improve their throw from shortstop
over to first base?
Garciaparra: It's just a matter of playing catch. As
you start playing catch, you start going for the distance. It
doesn't hurt to just play catch from shortstop to the first
baseman, from the actual position, so you can feel the
distance -- what it's going to feel like, how far you've got
need to throw (the ball), how much muscle you need to put into
it, and what it takes. That's just a real simple way (to
improve), and it gets you going. Once you actually field the
ball, it's a matter of getting your feet into the proper
position, pointing your left shoulder to your target and
making a nice, firm overhand throw to your target.