Yonder Alonso Not Thinking About Opponent's Defensive Shifts

PHOENIX — Yonder Alonso breaks out into a wide grin at the mere mention of “defensive shift.”

“I don’t really think about it,” the Padres first baseman said Saturday afternoon when asked about the shift some teams are deploying against him.

The shift against Alonso has been deployed by the Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Mets and Brewers this season.

The second baseman moves to his left as well as backing up into short right field. The shortstop moves behind second base. The only infielder on the left side of the infield is the third baseman.

Alonso on Friday night beat Arizona’s shift by hitting a sharp grounder through the hole typically manned by the shortstop, driving in Carlos Quentin with the Padres’ first run. Earlier this season, Alonso dropped a bunt single when the Dodgers shifted against him.

“I don’t make adjustments to what I’m doing when they shift,” said Alonso. “I’m not a dead pull hitter. I hope they keep doing it.”

Alonso has power to both alleys. Several of the teams that shift the infield to the right, actually shade the outfield toward the left side against Alonso.

“Shifting is more a function of the pitcher,” said Padres manager Bud Black. “Defenses shift a lot based on what type of pitcher is working and how he wants to pitch a certain hitter. Some teams shift on Chase (Headley) at times.

“I do know this, Yonder has the ability to beat the shift.”

Padres hitting coach Phil Plantier said he is not surprised that teams use a shift against Alonso.

“Nothing surprises me,” Plantier said of defensive shifts. “There are thousands of charts out there. Every team has charts and graphs outlining player tendencies in great detail.

“Shifts take into consideration both the hitter and the pitcher. As a manager, you’re thinking ‘how are we going to pitch this guy ... what does the pitcher want to do ... where might he hit this pitch or that pitch.’

“And sometimes a shift is just mental to try to put a piece of doubt in the hitter’s head, take him out of the comfort zone.”

Plantier’s advice to Padres hitters facing a shift:

“Stay in your swing,” said Plantier. “Don’t change your approach for a shift. That is playing into the other team’s strategy. Yes, if you get an outside pitch that you would normally take the other way, take it the other way. But don’t change the approach just to beat the shift.”

“When I’m hitting, I’m not looking at where the infielders are playing,” said Alonso. “You notice, but you can’t focus on that. But I knew when I hit that pitch Friday night that it was a hit ... there was no shortstop where the shortstop usually is.”

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