Braves consider pulling Pence shift

Braves consider pulling Pence shift

Braves consider pulling Pence shift
ATLANTA -- Spray charts show the Braves have reason to continue utilizing a shift against Hunter Pence. But recent history has given manager Fredi Gonzalez reason to at least contemplate calling off the shift in some situations against the Phillies outfielder.

"Maybe with guys like [Jonny] Venters or [Craig] Kimbrel throwing 94 or 97 [mph], we won't shift them as much," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez and bench coach Carlos Tosca discussed making a change after Pence altered his swing and sent two hits through the vacated right side of the infield in Tuesday night's Phillies win.

His soft double in a two-run fourth inning came to rest in shallow right field before right fielder Matt Diaz or second baseman Dan Uggla, who was positioned behind the second base bag, could reach it.

"He's one of those guys who sticks his nose in there with two strikes and battles and finds a way to hit balls where you can't even defend," Gonzalez said. "Really, you can't put people where he hits them. He's just got that quality where he battles and battles and doesn't give in."

Pence also provided the decisive blow to last year's playoff hopes when he blooped a two-out, 13th-inning single that landed on the edge of the grass behind first base. Uggla might have had a play had he not been positioned behind the second base.

The difference was that Pence's decisive blow in last year's season finale appeared to be a product of good fortune. He was attempting to pull Scott Linebrink's pitch, but managed to produce an inside-out swing that sent the baseball spinning to the right side of the infield.

While Pence did sneak two singles through the vacated right side on Tuesday, he also hit a sharp grounder directly to Uggla as he stood behind second base to start the second inning.