Stephen Drew remains sidelined by post-concussion symptoms and Evan Drellich of MLB.com reports that the Red Sox shortstop will travel to Pittsburgh to be examined by a concussion specialist.
Drew suffered a concussion on March 7 when he was hit on the helmet by a pitch, and his status for Opening Day is very much in doubt. In fact, Drellich writes that “it seems all but guaranteed now” that Drew will begin the season on the disabled list.
Slick-fielding prospect Jose Iglesias would fill in for Drew as the starting shortstop, with Pedro Ciriaco in a utility infielder role.
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.