I never quite get it. A team employs the shift against a left-handed hitter, and the batter won’t even think about squaring up to bunt.
Look, I hate bunts. Most players can’t execute them, especially the heavy hitters. And why take the bat out of a lethal hitter’s hands? But if you’re going to leave a huge hole open on the left side of the field, I say go for it.
Apparently Mark Teixeira is going to do just that. “When no one’s on base, if they’re playing a big shift, I might lay down some bunts this year,” Teixeira said before he was among the honorees at the Thurman Munson dinner in Midtown Manhattan earlier this week. “I’ve been so against it my entire career. But I might lay down a few bunts. If I can beat the shift that way, that’s important.”
Well, duh. The Red Sox Big Papi has done it a couple of times. While it generates silly commentary from the sports media’s talking heads, it also works. It throws off the other team’s game plan. They need to consider: Will he go there or will he just try to do what he does best?
The switch-hitting Teixeira hit a career worst .224 from the left side last season, which is one of the reasons he’s thinking about going for the small ball from time to time. He thinks an occasional bunt will keep opposing teams on their toes. He’s also looking to drive the ball to the opposite field more often, too.
Teixeira admits the siren’s call of Yankee Stadium’s short porch has been quite “enticing.” He hit 39 home runs last year, but he readily admits he’d also like to hit for average this coming season. He hit .248 last year.
The first baseman says he’ll be testing out his bunting skills during spring training. Could be quite the show. But if it works, it may get more pull hitters shifting gears, too.