Scott Ullger: Third-base coach, baserunner?

The metamorphosis of Scott Ullger.
After Mark Teahen threw out J.J. Hardy at the plate to end the White Sox’s 5-4 victory over Minnesota on Sunday, I went back to see whether or not Minnesota third-base coach Scott Ullger waved Hardy home.
The replays were inconclusive in that respect, but it raised another question:
Was Ullger trying to fake out Teahen?
I captured the frames from this video to illustrate my point.  As the throw’s coming into Teahen — and Hardy is stepping on third — Ullger starts side-stepping toward the bag (Fig.1). After Hardy clears the area, Ullger steps into the field of play while Teahen is turning to throw (Fig. 2).
As Teahen makes the exchange from glove to hand and begins his throwing motion, Ullger is clearly within the lines (Fig. 3), and not to get a good view of the action at home, because he’s not looking that way.  He’s looking at Teahen, and one could gather from his positioning that he’s trying to imitate a runner who has pulled into third and is seeing if the ball gets away.
If Ullger was trying to fool Teahen, Teahen didn’t bite.  He makes the throw home, while Ullger is slow to turn (Fig. 4) and watch Hardy’s demise at home.
Obviously it didn’t matter, but it would’ve been interesting to see what would’ve happened if the relay were botched, because what Ullger is doing seems to be in violation of rule 7.09(i), in which…

With a runner on third base, the base coach leaves his box and acts in any manner to draw a throw by a fielder;

… is defined as an act of interference.
Hey, it wouldn’t be the first time a Sox-Twins game ended without recording an out.
If he’s not imitating a baserunner, I don’t know what else he could be doing.  And if Ron Gardenhire said Ullger was surprised to see Teahen handling the relay throw on the Jim Thome shift, maybe Ullger didn’t know what he was doing, either.
It’s an interesting bit of gamesmanship and a fun hypothetical at the very least.  I’m genuinely curious, and not only because it could have affected the outcome of this game.  If what Ullger did is kosher, then Jeff Cox should keep this trick tucked under his helmet.  Chances are he’ll be playing the role of Ullger at some point before this season (or week) is over.
Minor league roundup:

  • Charlotte 8, Gwinnett 2
    • C.J. Retherford homered, singled and drove in three. He was picked off once.
    • Jordan Danks doubled, walked twice and struck out twice.
    • Tyler Flowers went 1-for-3 with a double, walk and a strikeout; Dayan Viciedo doubled and K’d in four ABs.
    • Brent Lillibridge went 3-for-4 with a double and a stolen base.
    • Matt Zaleski struck out six over six, allowing one run on four hits and two walks.
  • Carolina 4, Birmingham 1
    • Christian Marrero doubled and struck out.
    • Tyler Kuhn had the only other hit, a single, and drove in the lone run.
    • Brent Morel went 0-for-4 with a K.
    • Anthony Carter was ineffective: 3 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 3 K.
    • Miguel Socolovich and Henry Mabee each threw three scoreless innings.
  • Winston-Salem 5, Kinston 1
    • Eduardo Escobar went 2-for-3 with a double, walk, a sac fly and an RBI. He struck out once.
    • Nevin Griffith allowed one run on three hits and a walk over six innings, striking out two.
    • Dan Remenowsky struck out the side, allowing a hit over a scoreless inning.
    • Josh Phegley singled twice and struck out three times in five at-bats.
    • Justin Greene wore the golden sombrero.
    • Jon Gilmore only gets the silver sombrero, but he also committed his first error of the season.
  • Rome 10, Kannapolis 4
    • Miguel Gonzalez went 2-for-5 with a double and a strikeout.
    • Daniel Wagner went 3-for-4 with two RBI.
    • Brady Shoemaker went 1-for-5 with three K’s; Kyle Colligan: 0-for-4 with 2 K’s; Nick Ciolli singled and scored a run.
    • Juan Silverio drew a walk, and committed his second error.
    • Kyle Bellamy struggled in his inning, allowing one run on a hit and two walks. He struck out two.
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I vote for dirty Twin trick and am still hoping their season opener is snowed out today.


Gamesmanship is using the rules of the game to your advantage, like letting a bunt drop that you could catch to turn a double play since infield fly doesnt apply to a bunt. What that third base coach was doing is called something else, CHEATING. If that run scores on that, you had best bet im going after a few of the star twin hitters next series with a little chin music and making it abundantly clear why. But maybe im just old school like that.


While we’re talking about cheating, I think Bobby’s going to have to make the foreign substance on his hat brim a little less conspicuous as the season progresses otherwise a team will call him out on it


Forgot to make my original point, nice scouting report on jim thome fastball low and away we must not have scouted him at double aa last year…. oh wait


Yea he did, but how could he not have that scouting report? How? Anything hard and in or up and Thome was toast.


I thought AJ setup inside and the pitch went outside.


Ha ha. Very AJesque


Was watching the radar gun while Jenks was up and he was gunning it in there, and the results were not encouraging – looks like more of the “harder and more hittable” approach he applied last year. Looks like 13 fastballs and 2 changeups, and once again, no sign of the buckler:


I watched yesterday’s ending with my roommate who is a Twins fan (can’t even describe the tension of watching game 163 with him) and when that final play happened he and I almost high fived somehow because that play was so damn hilarious. I can’t think of a better way to beat the twins than by making them look like fools. Great relay great positioning, definitely a play that wouldnt have happened last season.
I also tried to see if Ullger waved Hardy and couldn’t tell but there is no doubt he is TWO FEET inside the line. Unacceptable mistake(?) on his part because that could have cost his team the game were it a different situation. My roommate even agreed that he was absolutely cheating.


I was really curious about this too…when I went over the replay to see if Hardy blew through a stop sign, I didn’t see it, I just saw the third base coach out on the field. I mean, CLEARLY on it. It was weird.
Which, I guess, fit in with the rest of that play.


Ullger is apparently unfamiliar with the Legend of the Loutish Ligues. He’s fortunate his base coach shenanigans didn’t meet a tragic end.


Really good catch, Jim. Thank you for breaking this down frame by frame. It’s currently being discussed on Boers and Bernstein, and I believe they’re using your screen shots as a reference to try and figure out what happened.


It was right at the top of the 2 pm hour.


I was disappointed he didn’t mention your blog by name; that’s kinda bogus. But whatever.
They started on it a bit at the end of the 1p hour and continued after the top.


“According to a woman”?! Why not just “According to a Facebook fan”? Yeah … maybe I should change my profile picture from a bewigged cat to something that doesn’t scream *crazy person.*
Sorry you didn’t like Boers & Bernstein. (Perhaps a good “Who Ya Crappin'” segment would change your mind.)


The “fan” thing does sound weird. At least you didn’t call me “some chick.” ;^)
(Okay, did I just screw the pooch by using an emoticon?)


In other 3rd base coach news, watching the Tigers/Royals game, and boy, Gene Lamont doesn’t look too good these days.
Or was that always? I don’t remember.


You scooped everyone on the Ulger thing, Jim….because the Twins did it, most people would say (including Hawk) “that’s just smart baseball.” If the White Sox did that, everyone in the media would be saying what punks the Sox were.


beating the Twins at their own game, base running, pinch hitting, hit and runs, and defensive execution is pretty sweet in my book. It was an ugly win Ozzieball style. Looking more and more like the southside piranas. This was done without Pierre on the bases, Rios, or Alexei, the fastest trio of the bunch. Can you imagine when their bats get hot? Southside Piranas haven’t surfaced yet, but when they do, what a bite!


Southside paranas? They hit 3 home runs.


excellent. thank you. i agree with knoxfire, that was blatant cheating. (one note: i believe it is 7.09(i). 7.09(h) is about a coach touching a runner.)


Little Late on seeing this. Ironically I actually got to see that game since it was on wgn. Great post Jim


oh gawd! forwarded this post to some friends, and one of em replied with this
wtf, you’d expect a sports column to be somewhat accurate and “Naturally” know whos on first, not mix it up between I dont Know and Dont give a Damn!?!