Jayson Werth went unsigned as a free agent last winter, and then signed a minor league deal with the Mariners early in the spring. He worked out at their facility in Peoria, Arizona before joining the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers but never got a callup to the big club. Seeing no path back to the bigs, he called it a career, retiring in late June.
Part of that was due to a hamstring injury he received while playing in Tacoma. Today the Washington Post reports that there was one more little wrinkle in all of that as well. A DUI:
Former Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth pled guilty last week to driving under the influence in the Scottsdale area. The arrest occurred in April, when Werth was playing at the Mariners’ spring training facility in nearby Peoria. The court sentenced Werth to a diversion program, ordered drug and alcohol screening, charged him more than $1,600 in fines and fees, and suspended his driver’s license.
Werth declined comment and the specifics of the arrest aren’t reported in the article. The Mariners said his DUI was not a factor in not calling him up to Seattle.
This is not Werth’s first run-in with the law. Back in 2015 he served five days in jail due to a reckless driving charge in suburban Virginia.
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.