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Suppose there is a runner on first.

The batter hits a fly ball, and runs to first. The runner on first, anticipating that the ball will be caught, "barely" leaves first, with the expectation of returning there. The ball is caught but the batter has touched first base in the meantime.

Can the runner on first return there or is he out because the batter touched first base? Should the batter refrain from touching first base until the ball hits the ground?

(My understanding is that the runner on first is out if the batter BYpasses him on the way to second, but this is a slightly different situation.)

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The batter touching first is immaterial. The runner can safely return to first in the situation that you've described. –  MDMarra Apr 25 at 12:05

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

The runner on first is not out until he is bypassed by a runner behind him. In this situation the runner on first would only be out if he is passed by the runner before the ball is caught.

If the ball is caught and then the batter continues to round the base after the catch and passes the runner, the runner is not out.

Touching first base does not change anything. There are many different situations where the runner may want to be part of the way off the base, or even tag-up.

In a tag-up situation, the batter may touch the base at the same time as the runner, but cannot pass the runner.

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OK, if the ball is caught, the batter is out, which means that he cannot put out the runner on first EVEN by passing him, right? –  Tom Au Apr 24 at 22:14
    
Correct. Once a catch is made the batter is out. He may not put out the runner by passing him. However if he passes the runner and interferes with the resulting play, the umpires may decide on penalties based on rule 7.09-d. –  diggers3 Apr 28 at 4:46

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