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Farrell elaborates on shifts

Farrell elaborates on shifts

NEW YORK -- The one thing you will see the Red Sox do a lot more this season than in recent years is shift the infield. There were times in Wednesday's game when third baseman Will Middlebrooks was in short right field. Other times, Dustin Pedroia played in that spot.

The shifts Boston deploys are mostly designed by third-base coach Brian Butterfield, who manager John Farrell worked with in Toronto.

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

"In the case of a power hitter that 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. We'll take that tradeoff each and every time. That communication has been back and forth between Butter, our staff and the pitchers and infielders. I think everyone is on the same page with that."

Middlebrooks and Pedroia are adapting as it goes.

"That's taken a little getting used to, because we'll align differently," said Farrell. "We'll put Pedey in the area in which the higher number of balls are hit in that certain area. For example, here in New York, we'll see a different alignment vs. [Travis] Hafner as we will vs. [Robinson] Cano, just by virtue of the information we have at our disposal. That's what goes into it.

"And the other thing is, when we've got a man on 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."

In the bottom of the first on Wednesday night, Middlebrooks fielded Robinson Cano's groundball from short right field and fired to first for a play that was scored 5-3.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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