Finally some good news for the Mets.
Back when David Wright suffered an intercostal strain during the World Baseball Classic his status for Opening Day was very much in doubt, but he’s recovered quickly enough to be in the Game 1 lineup.
Wright had six plate appearances and played five innings defensively at third base in a minor-league game yesterday and is slated to play in a Grapefruit League game today, which would eliminate the ability to backdate a disabled list stint and signals the Mets have no worries about him being ready.
Wright injured his rib cage on March 14 while taking batting practice with Team USA and missed the remainder of the tournament. However, aside from missing 60 games in 2011 he’s played at least 144 games every year since 2005.
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.