Adrian Gonzalez willing to play outfield to make room for David Ortiz

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Expectations were that either the AL’s third-best or fourth-best hitter would have to be held out of the lineup when the Red Sox start a nine-game road trip in National League parks on Friday.  There is an alternative, though.

Adrian Gonzalez said he’s willing to move to right field to make room for David Ortiz in the lineup with the DH unavailable starting Friday.  It something the Red Sox are considering trying, though probably for just a couple of games, not for the entire slate.

Gonzalez has started all 71 of Boston’s games at first base.  He’s only played right field once in his career, that coming back in 2005 with Texas.  The Rangers weighed moving him out there on a more regular basis since they had Mark Teixeira installed at first, but even back then, they realized he was too slow to make it as an outfielder.

And Gonzalez is certainly no faster now.  While he’s certainly less round than Ortiz, he’d probably lose a footrace to Boston’s DH.  Putting him in right field, while also taking a defensive downgrade at first base, would seem to be more trouble than it’s worth.  There’s also the risk of injury for both Gonzalez and Ortiz.

On the other hand, while the Red Sox may be worse off on any given day with Gonzalez in right, they don’t want to see Ortiz lose his timing at the plate either.  He’s currently hitting .320/.399/.602 this season.  His 1.000 OPS puts him behind only Jose Bautista, Miguel Cabrera and Gonzalez in the American League.

So it’s no easy call.  The Red Sox may wait and see how Gonzalez handled shagging some balls in the outfield before deciding whether to try it.

Matt Carpenter hit a standup bunt double

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The wave of defensive shifts we’ve seen over the past few years has led to a lot of armchair hitting coaches demanding that players bunt to beat it. This is easier said than done, however.

The shift happens because certain hitters tend to pull the ball. Certain hitters tend to pull the ball because pulling the ball is what happens when one gets a strong, quick swing on a pitch one identifies early and which one endeavors to send as far away from home plate as possible. Which is to say that pulling is a skill that is good to have and which is strongly selected for among hitters.

In light of that, “why not just bunt to beat the shift” takes are kind of lazy. Bunting is hard! And it is not a thing guys who get shifted a lot are good at. Most of the time asking a player to do a thing he is not well-equipped to do is a bad idea. Indeed, a hitter voluntarily going away from his strength is something the defense would much prefer.

Most of the time anyway.

Last night Matt Carpenter made those armchair hitting coaches happy by laying down a bunt to beat the shift. And he laid it down so well that he ended up with a standup double:

One batter later Carpenter scored on a Starlin Castro error.

The shift giveth and the shift taketh away.