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OTTO GREULE JR./GETTY IMAGES SPORT Crowded House By the time the Phillies and Pirates had played three exhibition games this spring, 10 hitters had been plunked. Phillies pitching coach Bob McClure said his pitchers had thrown inside to keep the Bucs from getting too close to the plate. The hit batters on both sides, he said, were just a coincidence. Phils manager Ryne Sandberg wasn’t so sure. “Our pitchers will protect our hitters,” he said. Rodriguez agrees, and he doesn’t see a problem with pitchers’ claiming their half of the plate. “Some of the veteran guys, like C.C. Sabathia or Justin Verlander, will say, ‘That’s my plate,’” Rodriguez says. “That’s how it should be. It’s a one-on-one duel.” Since Kaat played at a time when pitchers like Bob Gibson and Juan Marichal claimed at least half of the plate as theirs, he sees no problem with trying to keep hitters from getting too close. “That’s how it has always been,” he says. Payback Time The you-hit-me, I-hit-you style of baseball has been around for a long time. And it still persists, despite increased efforts by MLB officials to stop it. In 2011, Rodriguez was hit 18 times. On each occasion, one of the Rays pitchers asked him the same question. “He said, ‘Do you need me to hit someone?’” Rodriguez says. “That’s a good teammate.” No-Man’s Land If you want the chatter in a dugout to stop, just have an opposing player head that way in pursuit of a popup. In an instant, the lively banter is silenced, and those assembled become statues, completely unwilling to offer a single bit of assistance to the man who is looking skyward, completely unaware of where a fence or steps might be. WRITING THE UNWRITTEN Much like Fight Club, a lot of baseball’s “code” is passed down from player to player, but rarely talked about. Here are 10 other rules that have timehonored traditions. Poker-Faced Pitchers Pitchers depend on the seven men (and catcher) behind him to catch balls hit into play, but should they suffer a miscue with the glove or throw—no matter how routine or fundamental—the pitcher is to never show the slightest hint of frustration. No Hit, No Talk When a pitcher on your team is working on a no-hitter after five innings, you: Do. Not. Talk. To. Him. Don’t even sit within earshot of him. While in the dugout, his existence should be as lonely as standing on the pitcher’s mound. Striking Out a Pose Much like hitters aren’t supposed to show up a pitcher with an exaggerated celebration or admiration after a moonshot, a pitcher is not supposed to whoop it up after ringing a batter up. Relieving Relievers Relief pitchers rarely get to step into the batter’s box in today’s game of specialization, but when they do, it’s “professional courtesy” for fellow bullpeners to serve up fastballs to their counterparts. Just Don’t Run We all know stealing a base when your team is up big is a code faux pas, but even if you’re the team down a bunch of runs, stealing a meaningless base only serves to make you look selfish to your teammates who see it as stat padding. Mound of Trouble The mound is sacred to a pitcher. Unless you’re the catcher or teammates invited to the hill for a chat or intentional delay of game, you stay off of it. Baserunners finding their way back to their dugout should run around the pitcher’s lofty perch, lest they draw their ire. Batters Boxed Out While it’s called the batter’s box, when a pitcher enters the game and is taking his warm-up pitches, a batter should stay far away from it or face some retaliation. Never Show Them It Hurts If a batter happens to get plunked—for reasons relating to the code or just an errant pitch—you never wince and show pain and you never rub the spot. Feel free to glare or mean-mug it, but never let the pitcher know he hurt you as you take first base. Out, But Stay in the Dugout When a pitcher is pulled from a game, his night is essentially over, but no matter the circumstances—giving up 10 runs in an inning or giving up the go-ahead run—he has to serve his penance on the bench for at least the duration of the inning before retreating to the showers. Step in Quietly Batters entering the batter’s box should never approach it going in front of them. It’s a few extra steps, but you walk behind them to dig in. It’s a lonely island for a pitcher bidding for a no-hit bid. Just ask Felix Hernandez. Ding-ups and pain are expected in the game; not playing through them is not. MARK CUNNINGHAM/GETTY IMAGES SPORT


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