Attachment 6213ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick tweeted that the Minnesota Twins have hired former Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo to be a minor league infield and baserunning coordinator.
The 62-year-old Perlozzo was originally signed by the Twins in 1972 and had a ten-game cup-of-coffee with the team in 1977 where he went 7-for-24 (.292) with two triples while playing second base. As an Orioles manager from 2005 until his firing in June of 2007, Perlozzo compiled a record of 128-172.
Perlozzo's most recent position was as a base coach for the Philadelphia Phillies from 2009 until 2012. While with the Phillies, it was Perlozzo's responsibility to position the defense. In a MLB.com article in 2012, Perlozzo spoke of his use of defensive shifts -- or lack there of. That year, the Tampa Bay Rays led all of baseball at that time with 171 defensive shifts. The Phillies, meanwhile, had just one.
"What you don't see is we don't always send the shortstop all the way to the other side. So it's a shift. It just doesn't play like the one where you're sending the guy way over."
"A lot of it is individual to a pitcher," Perlozzo said. "It's easy to say we're going to shift him if we know we're going to pound the hitter inside. But if we're going to stay away, then it doesn't do any good. I'll check with Doc almost every time he pitches. He'll tell me he's going to pound a guy inside so he wants a guy in the hole. And he'll say don't put the shortstop on the other side of second. Keep him just on the inside of the bag. So I'll tell our second baseman, if the ball goes up the middle or to your right, don't worry about it. If Doc says that's what he wants, that's what we're going to do. We're not going to let that ball get in the hole."
The Twins have been middle-of-the-road when it has come to shifting their infield. Similar to the Phillies, they chose more often than not to keep their shortstop on the left side of second base. This trend, of course, has become a strategy that some teams have used to great success.
Defensive shifts were popularized by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2013 after they made liberal use of the scheme to great success (as did the Boston Red Sox) but the St Louis Cardinals, who reached the World Series in 2013, cut back on the use (as did the Astros after pitchers began feeling uncomfortable with infielders out of place).
It will be interesting to see if Perlozzo's addition provides any new methodology to the existing strategy.