Joe Maddon the Chicago Cubs manager reached into his bag of tricks and pulled out a rare defensive alignment on Monday night against the Cincinnati Reds.
With the Cubs in front by five runs during the fifth inning of their 15-5 victory, Maddon moved Kris Bryant his third baseman to the outfield to form a four-outfield defense against Joey Votto the Cincinnati slugger.
The strategy by Maddon was foiled by Votto when he pulled a double down the line in right field, but Maddon appeared to warm to his latest idea of special defenses in certain situations.
Maddon told reporters following the game that he and his coaches would continue to use an alignment like that, when they felt it merits use.
The idea of a fourth outfielder was given to Maddon by Gary Sutherland a former scout with the Angels. He first gave it to Maddon during the 2002 World Series as Sutherland thought it was the best method to defend Barry Bonds the Giants powerful slugger.
However, at that time no one used crazy shifts of that type, said Maddon. Therefore, added Maddon he wanted to implement it, and it always remained in his mind when he managed Tampa Bay. They used numerous charts to align defenses and used the shift while with the Rays.
Maddon employed the alignment of four outfielders against Jim Thome with the Chicago White Sox, Travis Hafner with the Cleveland Indians and David Ortiz with the Boston Red Sox during his time managing the Rays.
Votto is hitting the cover off the ball at this time, said Maddon and regardless of what you do you are taking chances.
Maddon said that Votto is similar to Tony Gywnn when he was in his prime. He said that he had his players moving to be in the correct spot at the time the ball was hit as well as a way to distract the batter.
Jon Jay the Cubs leftfielder had never been a part of any alignment with four outfielders until this week. He called the alignment cool, adding it was a smart thing to do since Votto is such a good hitter.
However, the outfielder said that the communications amongst players in the outfield is important since there is much less room to run, everyone needs to know what the other is going to do or problems will occur.