Posted on 21. Apr, 2009 by in Dayton Dragons Baseball, General Baseball.


Ozzie Guillen signals for Bobby Jenks

Ozzie Guillen signals for Bobby Jenks

There are many glaring differences between the 30 Major League Baseball Stadiums, and the hundreds of Minor League ones throughout professional baseball.  The capacities are nowhere near the same, the video boards are half the size, and the product on the field usually is not as talented.  But one major difference goes unnoticed by most fans throughout baseball, and is very important to the teams during the game.

In minor league baseball stadiums, most bullpens are located down the foul lines, and rarely beyond the outfield walls, like most major league stadiums.  They are usually not covered or cozy and are so close to the stands players could share popcorn and a conversation with the fans.  This can become troublesome because there are no bathrooms in the bullpens and more importantly, no phone to reach the dugout.  This is very important when trying to get a pitcher warmed up to enter the game on any given night.

Getting one or even two relievers ready in a major league game is easy.  They pick up the “red phone” and someone in the bullpen answers receiving instructions on who should get ready and how quickly.  In minor league baseball, players and coaches must rely on hand signals to get the message across.

This old school method of using hand signals to the bullpen can get quite interesting when trying to get a certain reliever up throwing, and let them know how quickly you need them to get ready.  There are unwritten hand signals that are universal in baseball to help accomplish some of this.

For example, a simple “throwing motion” can mean to get a pitcher up and lose immediately, while making a “high arc throwing motion” can mean for the pitcher to get up and start tossing lightly.  A simple tip of the cap usually signifies the pitcher is lose and ready to come into the game whenever called upon or “pushing down” with your hand means whoever is up and throwing can stop and have a seat.

For a team to get the correct reliever up and loose is another difficult challenge.  A team may have seven pitchers in the bullpen, with three being lefties and four being righties.  So for a coach to signal down for the right pitcher to get up takes some creativity.  Usually special signals are made up for each pitcher so that the coach can get the correct one up at a given time.  An example could be a tall one could be signaled by raising your hand high in the air, or a sidearm throwing pitcher could be signaled by making a sidearm motion.   Also a lot of coaches could use a “play on words” to get the pitcher up, like a “Lance” could be signaled by riding a bicycle motion like Lance Armstrong or a “Jordan” could be signaled by dribbling an “air basketball” like Michael Jordan.

Chicago White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen demonstrated his use of bullpen signs during the 2005 playoffs, when trying to get closer Bobby Jenks into the game.  On his way to the mound, Guillen signaled for “the fat one,” by making a huge circle with his arms out in front of him.

Although this is much planned out and appears to be quite scientific and amusing, all could be made easier with a simple “call to the ‘pen,” on the “red phone.”  Next time you attend a minor league baseball game, watch for some of these signals between the coaches and the bullpen.

8 Responses to “Call to the ‘pen”

  1. mackdaddy says:

    Do you ever mske the call to the “pen” CB?

  2. mackdaddy says:

    CB, your fans want to know did you ever give the sign when you were working for doug and donnie?

  3. Corey says:

    I never did get to give the signs last season, they weren’t big on them…But this season I have done it a few times already…pretty cool…

  4. mackdaddy says:

    What is your style?

  5. Corey says:

    like everything in life, confidence and act like you have done it before…

  6. steamin dragon says:

    mackdaddy…your contributions to the website are very insightful. when can we expect to be seeing your own blog? great site corey!

  7. Corey says:

    Thanks for the kind words…Please keep following this site as exciting things are going to be happening soon…

  8. mackdaddy says:

    Mack Daddy would love to dominate a blog if will help a brother out, One Time. I heard Corey charges the players a lot of money so I don’t know if I can afford him?

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