Baseball Rundown (a.k.a. the Pickle) – Pro tips to get the runner out

The baserunner should NEVER win in a baseball rundown (or “pickle”).  If the play is executed properly, the defense should be able get the runner every time.

How to execute a Rundown

A baseball rundown, sometimes called a ‘pickle’, is when you have a base runner caught in between two bases.

Tips from the Pros

  • Use the fewest number of throws possible.

    The goal is to complete this play with two throws or less, because this cuts down on the potential for an errant throw. The key to doing this is to run hard at the baserunner, forcing him to commit, before making the throw to your partner.

  • Don’t let the runner advance.

    If you have a base runner caught between bases and have choice to run him toward any base, make it the smaller base. (If between 1st and 2nd, run him to 1st, etc.)

Do you want all this in a printable, easy-to-follow cheatsheet?  Click here to get the “From Pickle to Easy Out” cheatsheet

How to do a Baseball Rundown:

  1. Get the baseball into your throwing hand.

    You want this so you can tag or throw quickly.

  2. Choose your throwing path.

    Both infielders, whether throwing the ball or receiving it, should get to the same side of the base runner. For example, both players get to the infield grass side. This will prevent the throw hitting the runner, and gives both thrower and receiver a clear line of sight.

  3. pro tips for the baseball rundown or baseball pickle

    Yankee Doug Bernier executes a baseball rundown

    Run toward the target.

    If you have the baseball, it is your job to run hard at him so he can make a decision. If you run hard, he has to run hard and it is more difficult to stop and change directions. Make him commit and either tag him or give the ball up to the receiving infielder. If you are receiving the baseball, you should close the gap between you and your partner. This makes it more difficult for the runner to stop and get going the other direction before you can tag him. Also, this will keep the play in the middle of the bases and not close enough to where he can make an athletic slide and get in safely.

  4. Follow your throw.

    For example- If you are playing first base and you throw it to the shortstop, peel off and continue to second base. You will be in line behind the second baseman who is waiting for the next throw, and if the shortstop gives the baseball up, he goes to first base and gets in line. It is set up this way just in case it takes longer than two throws.

  5. Get out of the baseline.

    After you make a throw to another infielder, make sure to peel off and never cross the baseline. Stay out of the way of the runner. If the runner makes contact with any player from your team that doesn’t have the baseball, he is automatically safe. So stay out of the baseline.

  6. Communicate.

    The receiving infielder should use a command like “now” when he wants to get the ball. This will help when closing the gap and hopefully when you give it up he can catch and tag right away.

  7. Secure the ball for the tag.

    When making a tag, keep the ball in your throwing hand but wrap your glove around it. This is so the ball is secured and won’t come out if there is a little collision. Remember you have to tag him with the ball. You can’t have the ball in your throwing hand and tag him with your glove.

Pickles in baseball can be an easy out if executed properly.  It’s important to incorporate pickles or rundowns into the team defense portion of your baseball practice from time to time, so that everyone knows what’s expected of them.

To Fake or not to Fake?

Try not to use pump fakes. This is tough because they usually work. The problem is that you don’t only fake the runner -you usually fake out the receiving infielder. So if you do use it, limit it to one.

Do you want all this in a printable, easy-to-follow cheatsheet?  Click here to get the “From Pickle to Easy Out” cheatsheet

Read more about infield specific skills

About Author

Avatar für Doug Bernier

Doug Bernier, founder of Pro Baseball, debuted in the Major Leagues in 2008 with the Colorado Rockies, and has played professional baseball for 5 organizations (CO Rockies, NY Yankees, PIT Pirates, MN Twins, & TX Rangers) over the past 16 years. He has Major League time at every infield position, and has played every position on the field professionally except for catcher. (You should click to watch this great defensive play by Bernier) Where is he now? After 16 years of playing professionally, Doug retired and took a position as a Major League scout with the Colorado Rockies for 2 years. Currently Doug is the Data and Game Planning Coordinator with the Colorado Rockies


  1. Avatar für Rob S.

    The key to the whole process is to get the runner to make a decision. Typically a pickle starts when a runner recognizes he can’t get to the next base and stops. At that point the main job of the player with the ball is to make the runner loses sight of the ball. This requires threatening him with being caught, so that he turns and runs full out to the base. This means the player must run at the runner hard.

    I am firmly in the 1-throw column and typically that requires multiple fakes. The upside of this muliple-fake technique is that in many cases the runner who is attempting to time the throw and reverse course to the other base, freezes because of the multiple pump fakes. In nearly all these scenarios you can tag the runner without making any throws.

    The only thing I would add to the article, as written, is that the receiving fielder needs to move up from the base while waiting for the ball. It gives the fielder more time to execute the tag once he catches the ball; & shortens the runway for the runner to get up to top speed, which makes the throw easier.

  2. Avatar für Brad

    Wrong runner caught at 1st should be run toward second tagged out in one throw.running base runner back to 1st is little league.only run him back at third

  3. Avatar für Edward enriquez
    Edward enriquez on

    If there’s a pickle between first and second should the third baseman get involved or stay put to cover third

    • Avatar für Bob McMullen

      Stay put – if there’s an errant throw and the runner has the possibility of advancing to third, someone needs to be covering that base.

  4. Avatar für Drew Dunn

    This is great advice that not many high school teams use. I played college ball and am currently a high school assistant and I have tried to implement this but my head coach thinks its too hard. Kate to your question there should be someone there to be next in line for the rundown, so if the timing is off or the catcher gets ran over/passed by the runner you just throw to the base/plate. Also you have to think the runner will be looking back at the player chasing him so he will not see the player in front of him more than likely. Keys to success with this, getting the runner going full speed, get the ball in your throwing hand right away, good timing, and no pump fakes. I hate pump fakes

  5. Avatar für Kate

    It’s great advice,
    and very informative. One thing you didn’t cover that I’m a little curious about: you mention closing the gap, so it’ll be easier to pass the ball and tag the runner, but what’s to stop the runner from charging the receiver before the throw and barreling him over on his way to the plate?

  6. Avatar für David Veldt

    Great summary, Doug. A lot of coaches preach the 1 throw rule but that can be easier said than done. Also I feel like a lot of players forget your second point about choosing a throwing path – especially the younger players who get a little over-excited in these situations.

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