Baseball Rules Academy: What Constitutes a Lodged Ball?

Tracy Ringolsby

The White Sox and Twins played September 14, 2020. In the ninth inning, Byron Buxton hit a ball off the glove of the LF, Eloy Jimenez, which came to a stop under the padding of the outfield wall. 

Jimenez threw his hands up, the universal signal for a lodged ball and Buxton raced around the bases for an apparent inside-the-park home run. The White Sox announcers called it a home run but upon Replay Review Buxton was returned to 2B. 

What constitutes a lodged ball? 

Lodged Baseballs

  1. Per rule 5.05 (a) (7), a ball is considered lodged if, in the judgment of the umpire, the natural trajectory of the flight of the ball is interrupted long enough to affect further play. A batted ball that sticks in a fence, scoreboard, shrubbery or vines located on the playing field should be considered a lodged ball. Likewise, a ball that goes behind a field tarp or wall padding without leaving the playing field should also be considered to be lodged. Also, a lodged ball occurs anytime the momentum of a rolling ball is stopped abruptly and sticks or is stuck under the fence padding, shrubbery etc. Runners are awarded two bases when it is rules that the ball is lodged.
  1. How easily a ball might be retrieved by the fielder should not factor in the decision as to whether or not to declare a ball as “lodged.”
  1. The determination of whether a ball is lodged is subject to Replay Review.
  1. If the outcome can be determined by review, the ruling shall stand regardless of the action on the field. The action on the field including the decision of a fielder to raise his hands to ask for umpire review of a lodged ball or to play the ball are still important as replay may not always have a definitive angle.
  1. If an umpire has gone out into the outfield, or anywhere in the park, and can see that the ball is lodged, he should kill the play (regardless of whether the fielder plays or raises his hands) and the rule (two bases from time of pitch) should be enforced. If the umpire cannot determine whether or not the ball is lodged from his position, the ball will be kept in play regardless of the fielder’s actions. Unless the ball is played by the fielder, the umpire should then go out and inspect the ball. If the fielder retrieves the ball before the umpire can inspect it, the play stands unless it is overturned at the Command Center. Of course, minor league umpires and teams do not have that luxury.

Let’s look at some lodged ball situations that occurred during the 2019 season.


The Cubs and Giants played at Oracle Park on July 24, 2019. In the top of the third inning Javier Baez hit a shot to right field that lodged under the wall. Giants’ right fielder Austin Slater raised his arms and then decided to play the ball. Baez ended up on third base. The umpires conferred and sent Baez back to second base after ruling the ball was lodged.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon challenged the call but the call was confirmed in NYC and Baez was held at second base.

You can view the play by going to the link below:


MLB At Large