Big Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder drew hoots and hollers when he bunted for a base hit in Sunday’s intrasquad game. Don’t be completely shocked if he tries it again during the regular season.
Most clubs vacate third base when the left-handed-hitting Fielder is at bat and shift the defense around to right field. He’s been encouraged before to drop an occasional bunt to foil that strategy.
“They’ve always encouraged it, I’ve always been a little stubborn,” Fielder said. “I’ve given it a half [hearted] try, maybe. Not that I’m going to be [former big league speedster] Brett Butler, but why not? … Especially against a tough pitcher. When you have a tough pitcher on the mound, and you have a shift, and you smoke a ball to the right side, you get defeated at times. If I can help the team, I might try [bunting] a couple of times.”
Fielder’s bunt on Sunday came right after shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt hit a solo home run. Fielder pushed the baseball right along the third-base line.
“It was a little too close to the line,” Fielder said. “I don’t have to be too perfect, that’s the thing. [Carlos] Gomez helps me. Sometimes I try to be too perfect, because sometimes I think they’re still going to throw me out if I bunt it.”
The key, manager Ron Roenicke said, is picking the right spot to bunt.
“Especially if he’s leading off an inning and they want to over-shift, the score is going to tell when it’s a good time,” Roenicke said. “if we’re down a couple of runs in the eighth or ninth inning and we need a baserunner, I’m fine with him bunting anywhere there.”
Anything to avoid those frustrating line-drive outs that are hits for everybody else.
“That hurts my feelings,” Fielder joked.