Starting positions for umpires are the same as with R1 and R2. To reiterate, U3 does not start from a deep position on the grass-dirt line of the infield, but rather a traditional starting position halfway between the back of the mound and second base cutout.
Fly Ball Coverage
R1 and R3 is another circumstance of difference between professional mechanics and Baseball Canada mechanics. According to Baseball Canada, on a base hit, umpires will rotate in the manner as they do with R1 only. According to professional mechanics, the umpires will “slide” in the manner they do with R1 and R2. Therefore we highlight the two options below. We strongly encourage HBUA crews to slide with R1 and R3 for reasons explained below, unless required to work Baseball Canada mechanics.
Option A – Slide
Fly Ball Coverage (No Umpire Goes Out)
To clarify, again, with multiple runners on base, U1 is only required to go out on trouble balls. If there is a routine fly ball hit to their coverage area, they are to observe the catch from their starting position and then drop down behind 1B to observe any subsequent play, touch, or tag-up. In the event that the ball drops, they will not enter the infield.
U1 Goes Out
Option B – Rotation
The first clip identifies one troublesome aspect of rotating in this situation – a slow ground ball through the infield. While the runners are off on contact, the umpires must hold to determine if the ball will be fielded. If the ball stays in the infield, PU will not rotate to 3B due to the potential of R3 attempting to score. As you see in the video, R1 is about 3/4 of the way to 2B when the ball gets through the infield, causing a dead foot race between PU, starting from a static position after properly remaining at the plate, and R1. PU is so late getting to 3B due to his other responsibilities that he is not able to stop and get set, and is also not in the cutout.
The second clip identifies the other shortcoming – the fly ball with less than 2 outs where R3 goes back to tag, and the ball drops. PU must stay at the plate until it is clear the ball will not be caught; sometimes this means he can not leave until the ball physically drops. As R1 will typically not be tagging, again, a footrace is created between R1 and the PU. With that said, PU in the second video was late reacting to the ball dropping, which also contributed to him arriving late at 3B, but the video still highlights the concept as well as its shortcomings.
If U1 goes out, PU will remain at the plate, lining up R3’s tag-up, until the ball drops. If the ball drops, PU will use good judgement to determine whether or not it is necessary to move up to 3B. If R1 will reach 3B clearly uncontested, PU should simply remain at the plate. If it is unclear, PU should begin moving to 3B, although they may abort this movement and return home if it becomes obvious R1 will reach uncontested once they have begun moving up the line. Should PU be required to cover 3B on a play on R1, they must take the play in fair territory, as PU is also responsible for covering the plate if the ball gets away and R1 attempts to score. These mechanics are identical to those used in the same situation with a 2-Umpire system.