Mariners deal with shifty Rays

Mariners deal with shifty Rays

Mariners deal with shifty Rays
ST. PETERSBURG -- The big infield shift normally is reserved for big-hitting pull hitters in baseball, guys like David Ortiz and Ryan Howard.

But Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon is a proponent of moving his defenders to one side of the infield in various situations, so Mariners hitters Michael Saunders, Kyle Seager and Justin Smoak all looked out at times this week to see three infielders on the right side and the third baseman lined up at shortstop.

"That is the first time," Seager said. "It's something I haven't really seen too much before. I've seen it with other guys, obviously, but not with me."

Part of Maddon's approach is to make hitters try to do something different than normal and get away from their strengths.

"I think if you think about the shift, it will get in your head a little bit," Seager said. "You just kind of have your same approach. If you hit it hard and do what you want to do, you'll be successful."

Saunders has seen the strategy before and said he was more ready for it this time.

"I was really surprised 2-3 years ago when they did that to me here," Saunders said. "It was the first time I'd ever seen it and, to be honest, it got in my head a little. I knew coming in they'd do the same thing [this season].

"But I just try to stay with my game plan and if I hit the ball hard, there's a good chance it's going to find a hole, even if it is to the right side. I'm just trying to barrel the ball up. They can't play everywhere, despite having three guys over there."