Feb. 25: Q of the Day
I know they practice hitting singles and hitting with men on base, but what about bunting? Mike Matheny has said since he was hired as the Cardinals manager that he wanted his team to be good at bunting men over. Is he happy with the team’s bunting effectiveness? Do they work on bunting in spring training?
— Stan W., Memphis
Bunting is absolutely an emphasis during spring training and has been every year under Matheny. Pitchers work on it almost every day, and it is often included in the position player rotations, too. In addition to that work, each day a group of players are required to report early for extra bunting work. Today, for instance, that group included Pete Kozma, Rafael Ortega, Greg Garcia, Randal Grichuk, Cody Stanley and Stephen Piscotty. Tomorrow, Peter Bourjos, Matt Adams, Kolten Wong, Oscar Taveras, Patrick Wisdom and Luis Mateo will be participating in the early work.
It’s somewhat ironic to get a question that implies that the Cardinals should bunt more. I say that because I’m not sure there is an in-game decision that stirs more outrage from fans than this one. Matheny was criticized by many for asking his players to advance runners with a bunt as many times as he did in 2012. The Cardinals did less of it in 2013 (12 bunts total by position players) — and finished with the fewest sacrifice bunts by the club (position players only) in a season since 2004.
The emphasis for Matheny isn’t necessarily that the Cardinals bunt more… but rather that when players do, they’re more successful in those attempts. I would guess, though, that with the makeup of this Cardinals offense, there will be a bit more bunting in 2014 than there was a year ago.
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