Every once in a while, David Ortiz will step up to the plate and look out to an altered infield.
In France, they call it Le Sheeft: One first baseman, two second basemen, one shortstop and a lot of empty space. And every time I see Ortiz or any dominant left-handed hitter go head to head with Le Sheeft, I have the same nagging thought:
Why doesn't he just tap it down the third base line?
But it barely happens, if ever. In fact, most hitters pretend like shift isn't even there. They figure: "Why should I let these guys dictate how I play? I'm just going to be me!" And many times, that's good enough.
Still, how easy would it be for a hitter like Ortiz to turn that strategy on its head?
What if he took a little extra time, learned how to bunt and did so sporadically over the first few weeks of the season? How many successes, or even just attempts, would it take before the defense had to stop? They'd have to eventually, right?
Anyway, today in Fort Myers, Bobby Valentine was waxing philosophical on bunting, and was asked if he'd condone a guy like Ortiz or Adrian Gonzalez bunting to beat the shift.
You mean like in the ninth inning with three runs down and theyre leading off the inning?" he said. "I think its a great play."
Asked if that was the only situation where it might make sense, he responded:
"Maybe. I dont know what other times there are -- theres a tough pitcher and they (hitters) have a sore hand. Theres all circumstances when a bunt for a base hit by a big guy or a little guy can activate the offense. Think Ill ever give them a bunt sign? No. I dont think Ill give many people a bunt sign. But I want them to have it in their toolbox.
One word: Bravo!