This month, we will explain and outline an umpire’s parameters for a pitcher in the Little League® Major Division, and above, to be removed from the mound during a game. The situation described below is contingent on the defensive team’s manager making multiple “official trips” to the mound in the same inning to speak with the pitcher. The rule for the number of official trips to the mound in a single inning was amended at the 27th Little League International Congress; and is applicable beginning with the 2018 season in the Major division and above in both Little League Baseball® and Little League Softball®.
With one out and one runner on base in the top of the fourth inning in a Little League Baseball® Major Division game, the manager of the defensive team calls for, and is granted, “time” by the home plate umpire. The manager proceeds from the dugout to the pitcher’s mound and is informed by the plate umpire that this is his first official trip to the mound. After the ball is put in play, the pitcher walks consecutive batters to load the bases. The defensive manager again calls for, and is granted, “time” by the plate umpire. This time, he comes onto the field and calls his infielders and pitcher together at the mound. After concluding the mound meeting, the manager steps toward the dugout, but is quickly stopped by the home plate umpire. The plate umpire explains that that was the manager’s second official trip to the mound in the inning, and he must remove the pitcher from the game. The manager claims he was talking to his defense and that it is not an official trip to the mound.
For guidance on this situation, look to Rule 8.06, which applies to both baseball and softball.
According to Rule 8.06 (a), a manager or coach may come out once (Minor Division: twice) in one inning to visit with the pitcher, but the second time (Minor Division: third time) out, the player must be removed as a pitcher.
Rule 8.06 (b) A manager or coach may come out twice (Minor Division: three times) in one game to visit with the pitcher, but the third time (Minor Division: fourth time) out, the player must be removed as a pitcher.
And, finally, in the situation above, Rule 8.06 (d) outlines that a manager or coach who is granted a time out to talk to any defensive player will be charged with a visit to the pitcher. Therefore, the umpire correctly explained to the manager that the pitcher must be replaced.
Additional related information on common rules misconceptions and misinterpreted rules is available on Little League University.