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Giants expanding use of defensive shifts

Giants expanding use of defensive shifts

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants have joined the trend toward employing shifted defensive alignments, typically to neutralize pull hitters, and manager Bruce Bochy isn't likely to stop using this strategy anytime soon.

In fact, Bochy said Friday, "I think you're going to see more of it."

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During previous eras, teams altered their positioning so rarely that when they did, it made news. Additionally, only truly dangerous hitters consistently prompted shifts. Hall of Famers Ted Williams and Willie McCovey, for instance, forced defenses to add an infielder, an outfielder or both to the right side. During his heyday with the Giants, McCovey simply hit the ball beyond the defenders, though once he bunted up the third-base line for a double.

Present-day clubs receive a plethora of input from advance scouts, computerized reports and video to demonstrate when a shift might work. In Thursday night's series opener against the Miami Marlins, Giants second baseman Brandon Hicks stationed himself in short right field and shortstop Brandon Crawford played close to second base when Jarrod Saltalamacchia batted. San Francisco employed similar positioning last weekend at Los Angeles against Adrian Gonzalez.

Such moves make sense, Bochy said, "with all the information you get and when you look at the percentages." He added that the Giants might adjust or abandon a shift depending on who's pitching for them.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. Teddy Cahill is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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