"You Be The Coach"

The Situation - "D-Lew's Plight"

The Chicago White Sox are playing the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. The score is 3-2 with Boston leading in the bottom of the fifth inning. There is one out and Darren Lewis is on third base. Mo Vaughn is the hitter.

Mo hits a high pop fly to left field. Albert Belle is the leftfielder who is under the pop fly about 200 feet from home plate.

The Question

Third base coaches - get your thinking caps on! What do you, the third base coach, tell Darren Lewis to do? As always, keep in mind the setting, the players involved, and the time in the game.

Give me your answer and any supporting reasons.

Here's WK's answer:

"I have told Darren Lewis to tag up on any fly ball before the pitch has been made. When Mo hit the pop fly to left field, I position myself about twenty feet from third base. I am between the bag and home plate in good position to see Belle approaching the pop fly. Darren knows that he is going to tag and take off for home unless he sees me stop him with my hands up. If I keep my hands down, he keeps running for home. As Belle approaches the ball, I am looking for a good setup and if I see it, I will stop Darren. If I see a poor approach and Belle catches the ball off balance in any way, I am sending D-Lew home.

Fans - a lot of decisions are made on what you know and what you see at the time you have to make the call."

Here are some good answers from various coaches on the internet.

"Since the fly out makes two outs, you should send Darren home because he has great speed. Albert doesn't have the best arm in the majors and the throw could be off line. Also, with two outs, you have nothing to lose. I say send him."

Tim Shea

"Lewis is fast, very fast. Belle, I've observed, has a better than average arm. Two hundred feet is pretty darn short, but I'd still send him. You have a lead, Bosox pitching has been pretty reliable, and getting that run in provides some much needed padding. Tag and go. Defensively, a lot can go wrong on a throw to the plate and if the throw is even a little offline, Lewis will score with his speed."

Rick Donnelly

"Since it's only the fifth inning and we are in the lead, I elect not to send Lewis even though he has good speed. I personally never want to end an inning with a runner getting tossed out at the plate. Also in the consideration is Belle. His arm strength is decent, and with him camped out underneath the ball, it weighs heavily on my decision."


"What plight? It's Albert Belle! Run, Darren, Run! If there were no outs, I'd probably hold him. But with two outs, a lead, and Albert Belle's arm...this is a no-brainer."

Mike Mahoney

"I would challenge Belle, a poor fielder, with Darren's speed. With two outs on the catch (provided Belle doesn't misplay it), take a chance instead of hoping for a two-out hit."


"Here's what I would do. There are three factors involved here:

I go with a delayed tagup at third. It is a very shallow fly. Belle is thinking that D-Lew will not go. Therefore, on the short fly, D-Lew will step off third like he is not tagging (only a couple of steps). Per usual, as the ball is about to be caught, D-Lew tags up. When Belle catches the ball, he will lazily throw it in. As soon as
Belle is about to release the throw in, SEND D-LEW!! This will catch everyone off guard. You have a chance to add to your lead. My only other factor
is who is up after Mo. Since you are playing at home and its the fifth inning, there is still some opportunity to add to the lead. Plays like this really spark your team and really frustrate the other team so I think it's to your advantage. This is also a play that you do not use very often.

It may not be the right thing to do, but I think that given the situation and the players involved, this would be something interesting to try. If you do not want to send him outright, at least bluff the tagup, but make sure the cut-off man is not going to throw in behind D-Lew."

Chris Gregory
Toronto, Ontario

"I feel you have to go with the percentages as a third base coach. I am a head baseball coach at Brownwood High School in Texas. The percentages I go with are with no outs the runner has to be 90% sure he will be safe at home, 70% sure with one out, and 50% sure with two outs. With these percentages in mind, when Belle catches the ball there are now two outs and I feel you now take your chances and send Lewis.


With these reasons, I believe you roll the dice and send him."

Johnny Kinzy

"Given this situation, I would have Lewis 'deke' toward home as if he were trying to tag up and score. Have him go about almost half way to the plate. My thinking on this is two-fold. First, the Sox are up 3-2 with one out, so it wouldn't hurt to have him tag and send him that far down the line. Secondly, by having Lewis tag and really act like he is going home, this might prompt Mr. Belle into making an errant throw to the plate, thereby allowing Mr. Lewis to easily score from the half-way distance as I described earlier. If he makes a good throw, then nothing is lost ... simply have Mr. Lewis scamper back to third."

Billy Townsend
Fayetteville, AR

"I would have the runner take a few steps off the bag, trying to draw a throw. I think Belle, despite his recent play, gets Lewis at home. I don't remember who you had batting after Vaughn at the time, but I would not want to risk it with my four or five hitter coming to the plate."

Matthew Bianchi

"Here are several things to consider prior to this situation:

As a third base coach, I would have Lewis get back and tag up. If he gets a good jump, he's going home. If he is late getting back, hold him and hope for a two-out hit from O'Leary. With a lead in the middle innings, it's not a bad risk what with Belle being in left."

Scott A. Odom

"My answer to the situation is I would send the runner. Take a gamble. Albert doesn't have a 'great' arm, although he can lineup his body beneath the 200 foot pop-fly. You're in front and one of your fastest runners is on third base. It will be very close, so the throw has to be very good to catch him at home plate. In this instance you could say: 'You win some, you lose some'. By the way, it's the fifth inning and you could use the extra run."

Jan Willem van Markus
The Netherlands

"If I were the third base coach, here is what I would do. Given the fact that the game isn't in the late innings and knowing the club has been struggling at the plate, I would probably gamble and send the runner tagging up. If the runner is thrown out at home, at least there would be more opportunities later in the game. Should the run score, you have a tie game."

Andy Pion
Connecticut District 8
Junior Division Manager

"I would send Lewis because:

Tom Hagan

Thanks for answering my situation. Be sure to include your name and where you are from with each response.

Good luck until next time!

All my best,


That's it for "D-Lew's Plight".

Updated June 26, 1998