Braun: Can’t fault Reyes for bunting
Ryan Braun took a diplomatic approach in addressing the ethics of Jose Reyes’ “bunt and bolt” approach in the race for the National League batting title.
Reyes, the Mets shortstop, bunted for a single in his first at-bat and then called it a season. He finished the year 181-for-537, or .337057. Braun, the Brewers’ left fielder, entered an important game Wednesday night at 187-for-559, or .334525.
Braun would need to go 3-for-3 or 3-for-4 to reclaim the lead, a fact that was made very clear to him in a series of text messages from math-savvy friends on Wednesday afternoon.
“I respect whatever decision he decided to make, and ultimately he left the door open for me,” Braun said. “I know it’s not impossible. I’ve gotten three hits in a game plenty of times. It’s still attainable, still a possibility. If he had stayed in the game and gotten multiple hits, it would not have been a possibility at all. I respect whatever decision he decided to make, and I’m not really here to judge him. …
“I like Jose. I think he’s a great person, he’s a great player, he’s a lot of fun to watch. It’s not my position to judge him in any way.
He was certainly given an opportunity. Reporters peppered Braun to see if he would criticize the Mets speedster. Braun never bit.
“[Bunting], that’s a part of his game,” Braun said. “I can never fault him for trying to get a hit. That’s what he does. He’s fast, he’s an exciting player and I bet you he’s gotten plenty of bunt hits this year. I don’t think it’s anything out of the ordinary. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
“I said yesterday or the day before, it’s cool that both of us are kind of sprinting to the finish line. I think I’m six for my last nine with a few walks; he’s obviously swung the bat really well. It’s exciting. It’s fun that some of the individual races and some of the team races have come down to the last day. I think it’s great for baseball.”
Braun insisted his priority on Wednesday was the Brewers’ bid to win home field advantage in the first round of the postseason. They could seal it with a win over the Pirates, or a D-backs loss at home to the Dodgers.
The Brewers’ lineup included most of the regulars including Braun, who batted in his usual three-hole. He said he would stay in the game as long as circumstances dictated; in other words, if he was 3-for-4 after six innings and the game was still on the line, Braun would stay in and risk losing the batting title.
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