Managing the Field

It's getting late in the game. You're team is up by a single run, but the other team is has two runners on with two outs. The starting pitcher has been throwing well, but he's getting tired. A couple of relief pitchers are warming up in the bullpen. The other team's best hitter is strolling to the plate, looking like he wants to knock one into the seats.

Do you leave your starter in to face the slugger? Or do you take him out, tell him he did a good job and ask the reliever to finish the inning?

This is just one of the difficult decisions that pro baseball managers have to make every day. And strategy is just one part of their job.

In the Dugout: During games, managers can be seen pacing up and down in the dugout. They wear the same uniform as the players, but their jobs are very different. Managers are responsible for making decisions that can win or lose games. Leave the pitcher in or take him out? Put in a pinch-hitter to face the other team's ace lefty? Who is the starting left fielder going to be? If his team wins the game, the manager will be praised for pulling the right strings. But if his team loses, fans will place blame on the manager for using the wrong players. It's a difficult job - which is why managers rarely sit still during the game!

Motivation: One of the hardest jobs a manager has is keeping his team playing hard all season. The baseball season is very long - teams play 162 games from April to October. Players take the field just about every night. At times, they might feel sluggish and want to take a break. A manager has to keep his team fired up. He has to get them excited to play every day, even when things aren't going well. Managers have to make players understand that every game is important.

Teamwork: In baseball, the players don't pass the ball back and forth and don't block for each other. But teamwork is still a very important part of the game. Players have to back each other up in the field in case somebody makes an error. If one player gets on base, he relies on his teammates to drive him home. It's much more than a hitter going up against a pitcher. Managers make sure that every player on the team understands that baseball is a team game. A good manager let's his team know that playing together as a team is the most important part of the season.

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