The Ole Ball Game

5-20-2011 Indians: Was Carrera actually out after the bunt last night?

by Mary Knowles
(Cleveland, OH)

A look at the first base running lane

A look at the first base running lane

Mary asked: Hello from Ohio City (Cleveland neighborhood rated worldwide top 10 bar hopping site in USA today): My husband Doug and I watched the Indian's game last night. We both felt Carrera may have been out as he touched the grass with one foot when running to first after his bunt. I researched this and read rules about being able to go 3 feet out of your path toward base but your site implies this doesn't apply for the last third of the first baseline? Please clarify. But we will take the win to stay on top. Cleveland has earned a World Series win in our eyes a few times since the 90's. Thanks.

Rick answered: Mary, thank you for your question.

I did not see the play which you are referring to with Carrera. This is the gist of the rule, and we'll see if it fits into that particular play.

The situation with the first base line, and it's marked running lane, is seperate from a runners ability to go three feet out of their path to a base, to avoid a tag, between first and second, second and third, and third and home.

The running lane in the last half of the distance to first base is there to provide the batter/runner, as well as the umpire, a visual mark to avoid interference on a play at first base.

These plays generally come up on bunted balls out in front of the plate, or up the first base line. They also occur on balls topped out in front of the plate or up the first base line.

It can also occur on a missed third strike, whereby the runner can run to first. If the ball is blocked into foul territory behind home plate, outside of the first base line, or outside of the third base line, the first baseman always yells which side of first base he wants the catcher to throw to, as the runner will be in that three foot marked lane.

Balls in those locations create angles whereby the the runner can end up in the defensive fielders throwing lane. The rule requires the runner to be in that three foot lane, the fielders must adjust around that lane.

The rule: Runner is out if he runs outside the three foot running lane ( last half of the distance to first base), while the ball is being fielded or thrown to first base.

The infraction is ignored if it is to avoid a fielder who is attempting to field a batted ball or if the act does not interfere with a fielder or throw.

Batter/runner is considered outside the running lane if either foot is outside either lane. If both feet are within the lane, but player gets hit on his elbow, which is outside the lane, no interference is called.

In your play from last night, if the umpire determined that it did not result in interference with the throw, or the ability of the fielder to make the catch, he can ignore it.

You will see it on a regular basis as you watch the games, MLB runners do crowd those lines, even get outside of them. Usually ignored unless there is an obvious advantage gained by the runner.

Did this play cause a controversy? I would be interested in hearing the details.

Hopefully that helps make this rule a little clearer.

Yours in baseball,


Comments for 5-20-2011 Indians: Was Carrera actually out after the bunt last night?

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Jun 25, 2011
by: Tony-Too

OK, I see the light now - and the reason for the running lane:

There are often occasions when a defensive player, i.e. Catcher, Pitcher, or First Baseman must intercept the runner and tag him directly, rather than throw the ball to whoever is attending first base (possibly no one).

The 3-foot running lane then defines, for the runner, how far he can go to avoid that tag.

Gee, I hate to admit it when my first brain wave is NOT a stroke of genius.

Put the Running Lane back in!

Jun 25, 2011
Running Lane
by: Tony-Too

I am confused by "in or out" of the running lane.

Apparently, "out" of the running lane means the runner is on the baseline and/or on the field.

To be "out" of the running lane on the grandstand side of the baseline is of no consequence, since the runner is just making it a longer run to get to first base. The runner doesn't have to "avoid a tag", because all the first baseman has to do is touch the base once in possession of the ball.

"In" in running lane, therefore means the runner must keep both feet on the grandstand side of the first base line. It's OK to be as close to the base line as possible, just not on or within it.

Thus the baseline is the point of reference for the umpire and the extra line - three feet from the base line - is of no purpose.


May 31, 2011
Outside the lines
by: Anonymous

Anonymous asked: In a situation where the player running to first runs outside the 3 foot lane to avoid a tag by the First Baseman does the rule apply?

Rick answered: In a situation such as you have described, the first base running lane wouldn't be the guide. The batter/runner establishes his baseline as he starts towards first base out of the batter's box.

From that established line, he has the same 3 foot distance he can go to avoid a tag, that he would have between any of the other bases.

In the situation for the above question, Carrera established his base path as just to the outside of the first base line. When he went outside the first base running lane to avoid Vato's tag, he was still within the 3 foot line from his direct path to first base, thus he was safe.

The running lane only becomes a factor to determine if a batter/runner created interference with a ball thrown to first base.

Yours in baseball,


May 24, 2011
video tape of the bunt
by: Mary Knowles

Mary commented: Hope this helps with the answer:

Will the video play for you?

Rick answered: Mary, thank you so much for the video link.

In this situation, the first base running lane does not apply. It is only there for reference to determine interference by a batter runner on a thrown ball.

It does, however, provide the umpire in this case with a visual line of sight, as to where Carrera established his baseline, which is what umpires use to determine the 3 foot rule.

Coming out of the box, Carrera is to the outside of the first base line. That established, he has three feet to go laterally to avoid Vato's tag, which he did. He did step outside the running lane; but he had the room to do so.

Cincinnati must have felt so also, as there was no argument by them.

The umpire was in a great position to see it all.

Call was correct.

Thank you for the followup comment! Real exciting play, especially for Indian's fans.

Enjoy your season. It looks like it may be a special one.

Yours in baseball,


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