Valentine on the art of the bunt

March, 12, 2012
3/12/12
12:44
PM ET
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Some sabermetricians have opined that the sacrifice bunt is not a great idea because a team will score more runs with a strategy that is short on bunting.

Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine seems to be aligning himself with that approach.

“I told the guys, ‘If we are going to what I’d consider a bunting situation, I hope we can perfect the bunt for a base hit,’” he said Monday. “That’s why we have bunting stations today.

“I think it (sacrifice bunt) definitely has its place in a baseball game. Definitely. I think they (batters) should be proficient enough at their skills that when a bunt is in order -- where a double play kills an inning or the advancement puts such pressure on the opposition that it becomes advantageous to us -- they should be able to apply something other than, ‘I’m sacrificing,’ in a bunt situation.

“Bunting is like hitting. You select a pitch to bunt. You don’t bunt all pitches. If that pitch isn’t your pitch to bunt, you shouldn’t bunt. I think the angle of the bat will direct the ball, and there are only certain pitches that the angle of the bat can properly direct the ball. I don’t think you ever go up thinking about bunting both ways. You have to either make up your mind you’re going to pull or go the opposite way. You can’t think, ‘I’m going to third,’ and then the ball’s inside and go to first. That ball goes right back to the pitcher.”

Would David Ortiz or Adrian Gonzalez ever bunt against a shift that exposed the left side of the infield?

“You mean like in the ninth inning with three runs down and they’re leading off the inning? I think it’s a great play.”

Other times less so?

“Maybe. I don’t know what other times there are -- there’s a tough pitcher and they (hitters) have a sore hand. There’s all circumstances when a bunt for a base hit by a big guy or a little guy can activate the offense. Think I’ll ever give them a bunt sign? No. I don’t think I’ll give many people a bunt sign. But I want them to have it in their toolbox.”

Other notes from Valentine’s media briefing:

* Injury updates: Carl Crawford (wrist) will throw with a trainer today and by mid-week will take some monitored swings. Shortstop Jose Iglesias (groin) did some drills but Valentine said they are going to be “ultra-conservative” with him and shut him down until Thursday.

* Cook-ing up a plan: Valentine said Aaron Cook probably will not get enough innings in spring training to start the season on the major league roster. Cook made his first appearance Sunday, throwing two hitless innings that featured four groundouts.

“It seems like he’s on pace for 17-18 innings, if all goes well from here on in and if we have innings to give him,” Valentine said. “I’d like him to be a starter. Seems like he’s a pitcher to me. If he has the sinker he had yesterday consistently, he’d (eventually) be a contributing factor, especially at our place.”

* Fenway philosophy: As a visiting manager with the Rangers, Valentine said his biggest challenge was to get the Green Monster off the minds of his players.

“I remember it as being a real tough park to hit in and a real easy park to hit in, depending on which way those flags were blowing,” he said.

He said Fenway might change the way he manages, depending on whether the wind is blowing out or in.

* Position versatility: He said third baseman Kevin Youkilis has taken reps at first base but he wants him to get “totally comfortable at third.” Shortstop Mike Aviles will get some time at third base and in the outfield.

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