PITTSBURGH – Shifting defenses are now part of daily strategy. But in addition to determining which hitters to shift against, when to shift is another decision.
“I’m constantly juggling with that during the game,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said.
The Twins normally don’t shift on the first pitch to a hitter because they feel that’s when a hitter will attempt to foil a shift with a bunt. Pittsburgh and Detroit are among teams that also will delay shifts until a pitch or two have been thrown.
It seems like more teams are mindful of what the count is before they decide to shift or not against certain hitters.
“There might be a little bit more because more guys are trying to bunt over there,” Molitor said.
The Twins have seen a variety of shifts. Joe Mauer sees many, but some teams have played him straight up once he showed he could pull the ball to right field this year. Pittsburgh swung its defense around to the left on Kurt Suzuki on Tuesday, and Suzuki made them pay by grounding a single right where the second baseman normally plays.
“They have their charts and they are going to go with what they think they can do and what their defenders can do,” Molitor said.
Players on the mend
Righthander Casey Fien (shoulder) threw in the bullpen with no problems and is off to Class AAA Rochester to begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment.
Outfielder Oswaldo Arcia (hip flexor) could be on his way to a rehab assignment by the end of the week.
• Designated hitter Kennys Vargas took the full 72 hours to report to Rochester after being set down Sunday. The Twins were fine with his arrival for two reasons. He had to take care of some business before he packed up and left the Twin Cities. And the Twins had to clear space to make room for him. That move was to send righthander Chih-Wei Hu back to Class A Fort Myers after he made an emergency start Tuesday for Rochester.