Red Sox continue use of shift strategy

Red Sox continue use of shift strategy
April 4, 2013, 7:15 pm
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NEW YORK -- The Red Sox did a lot of shifting on lefty hitters Wednesday, positioning third baseman Will Middlebrooks on the right side of the infield against Robinson Cano and Travis Hafner.

It's a strategy that John Farrell used a lot in Toronto and continues to use with the Sox.

Farrell said Red Sox players haven't needed a lot of convincing about the effectiveness of the shift.

"Because of the amount of information that's taken into account," he said, "pitchers understand the reason we are aligning the way we are in certain situations; they're accepting of it. The key to that is, if pitchers excecute pitches to certain areas, where we've done our homework and see where hard contact goes, more times than not, we're going to have a guy standing in that spot.

"In the case of a power hitter who might look to bunt as an alternative to go against the shift, that's the one thing that we've made mention to the pitchers. And they say: we'll take that tradeoff each and every time. I think everybody's on the same page."

At times Wednesday, the Sox used different alignments. They had Pedroia in shallow right, with Middlebrooks in the traditional second base position, and other times, kept Pedroia at second and moved Middlebrooks into the outfield spot

"We'll put Pedey in the area where the higher number of balls are hit," explained Farrell. "Here in New York, we'll see a different alignment for Haftner rather than Cano, just by virtue of the information we have at our disposal. And the other thing is, when we have a (baserunner) at first base, we'll keep Will away from second base. He's not accustomed to turning the double play and we'll always keep Pedey as the pivot guy."

Farrell credited third base coach Brian Butterfield, who researches hitters' tendencies, for the implementation of the shifts.

"He's got so much information and date available to him," said Farrell, "that it's pretty compelling to align ourselves the way we do."