Green wants Padres to embrace defensive shifts

Green wants Padres to embrace defensive shifts

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Padres didn't employ a defensive shift in their first two games of Cactus League play, though you can bet it's coming.

Just this week, Padres first-year manager Andy Green implemented a series of shifting drills that will soon be unveiled in Arizona.

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How important is defensive shifting to Green? How much time do you have?

While third-base coach for the D-backs last season, Green spearheaded Arizona's notable shifting efforts, which not only helped lead to the most defensive runs saved (71) in baseball in 2015, but led to 12 shift-runs saved, the second most in the National League.

"We'll do it for sure. We'll probably do it more than the Padres did it last year. It's something you have to pay attention to," Green said.

Brian McBurney, the Padres' director of baseball research and development, has helped the team increase its shifting in recent years. That trend will continue in 2016.

As an organization, the Padres have increased their number of total shifts in each of the last three seasons, using 35 full shifts and 52 partial shifts in 2013. In 2014, it was 191 full shifts and 49 partial shifts. This past season, the team used 452 full shifts and 116 partial shifts.

How staunch a proponent of shifting was Green in Arizona?

According to Baseball Information Solutions, the D-backs used 587 shifts on balls in play last season -- good for 10th in the big leagues, well behind the Rays, who shifted 1,462 times. That was far and away more than 2014, when the D-backs shifted just 252 times, which put them at 21st out of 30 teams.

How will the Padres practice shifting?

"The whole idea behind it is to practice in the position you're going to spend a lot of time throughout the year in," Green said. "… We'll hit balls through the infield and show how we rotate out of it.

"We'll hit balls to guys positionally where they'll stand in the shift."

It hasn't happened yet, but Green said he and the coaches will make sure pitchers are comfortable with shifting before making the call.

"That's part of the process. We haven't engaged that process yet, sitting down with each individual player -- why we want to position this way, let them ask questions," Green said.

"The psychological impact of the pitcher if he's not onboard, it's probably more harmful than the good you get out of the shift. We'll make sure they're onboard with this."

And if the pitcher has opposition to shifting after a ground ball that would have normally been an out goes for a hit? Green is certainly empathic to their cause.

"I tell them, pitchers have the trump card, but they have to sit down and listen to the logic behind what we choose to do," Green said. "[Last season] I didn't find any resistance."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.