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Monday, March 5, 2012
Drill of the day: Infield angles

By Richard Durrett

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- One of the first people on the back fields at Surprise Recreation Campus every morning is manager Ron Washington.

He spends about 15 to 20 minutes with one or two players on Field 7, which is just an infield (there's no outfield).

On Monday morning, he was working with Mike Olt at third base (they'll tackle first base sometime this week too). And it was all about angles. Washington took his bat and drew the top part of an octagon. He wanted Olt to stay within those lines, meaning always move toward the ball even when moving laterally. He doesn't want any movement that is straight to the left or right. That could enable the ball to take one more bounce or a strange bounce and be the difference between getting to the ball or having time to set your feet to make a throw.

It's an easy thing to check, too. At the end of fielding 30 balls thrown hard on the ground to him by Washington, Olt could see his cleat marks and where he was. He did a good job of keeping on those angles.

"You have to constantly move your feet," Washington said. "If you are moving your feet, you can react quicker and get to the ball to make a play. He did a good job of that."

It's fun to watch Washington go through this routine. He clearly loves the teaching part of the job and the younger players respond to Washington's instruction.

Olt left the field soaked in sweat, feeling like he made progress. That's the point, of course.

Washington does the same thing with his big league players, stressing they keep working on those little things during batting practice and infield drills. He hit balls to Elvis Andrus later in the morning and Andrus was constantly moving his feet as he waited for the arrival of the ball.