Cingrani is force with deceptive pickoff move

Cingrani is force with deceptive pickoff move

ST. LOUIS -- Most pitchers consider their biggest asset to be a certain pitch, or the way they hide the ball in the delivery to the plate. For Reds reliever Tony Cingrani, a quick pickoff move can help him record outs in sticky situations or change the course of a game.

Cingrani picked off the Pirates' Jordy Mercer at first base in the ninth inning of a 7-3 win on Sunday, and Cingrani is tied for the Major League lead with four pickoffs.

"For anyone to have a good move, it's the time outside of the coaching staff that really ends up being the most important," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He has found it as a weapon, and he has worked on it."

Price suggested the credit should also go to Mark Riggins, the former Reds pitching coach who was dismissed on July 4, and also noticed Cingrani finishes his throwing routines with pickoff moves. Cingrani, the club's third-round pick in the 2011 Draft, finished tied for third in the Majors with six pickoffs in 2013 and entered Monday with 13 for his career.

"It wasn't very hard to work on," Cingrani said. "At Rice, we worked on it every couple of days during the fall and everything. We just worked on getting to that 45 [degree angle] and changing up head movements. I really didn't do too much with my head. I just work on that 45 degree angle and make everything look like I'm going home, and then coming over."

That's the issue most teams take with Cingrani's move, it looks uncomfortably close to a balk because runners usually steal off left-handers at first move. Against Cingrani, it's difficult to discern whether he's going to throw to the catcher or first base.

"There's no 45-degree rule in the rulebook, it's an umpire's view of whether or not the pitcher is making a move toward home plate while throwing to first base," Price said. "To me the rule is kind of convoluted. It's a harder rule to understand. It's another reason for [first baseman] Joey [Votto] to hold the runner on with a 7-3 lead in the ninth."

Cingrani may not have to use the move much in the next three days as the Reds face the Cardinals, who entered Monday's series opener ranked last in the National League with 26 stolen bases. St. Louis has fallen victim to it twice in the past. Cingrani picked Shane Robinson off second base in 2013 and Matt Adams off first base in '14.

"It's good enough to where if you shift [your weight], you don't have the time to get back," Price said.

Nick Krueger is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Louis. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.