Bunting Bug Bites Rays

February 17th, 2017
Bad bunting was a Rays tradition

Bad bunting was a Rays tradition

Joe Maddon is rolling over in his Rays grave.

That’s an exaggeration, but Merlot Joe was no fan of bunting unless it was a squeeze play. Heaven forbid the Rays give up an out to move a runner.

Maddon — and Kevin Cash — were down on bunting for the past several years and so many Rays players were inept in the lost-in-Tampa-Bay art.

Enter new Rays outfielder Mallex Smith, and Kevin Cash tells Steve Carney of WDAE-AM 620 that he’s never seen a player approach bunting like the 23-year-old newcomer from the Braves/Mariners.

“Ozzie Timmons [Durham’s hitting coach, and a special instructor during the spring] was bunting with him [Wednesday], and we were talking about it after the workout, and said it was probably the most impressive routine he’s ever seen,” Cash told WDAE.  “He starts and he’s squatting down like a catcher and bunting everywhere.  Most guys bunt 1st base, third base.  Mallex uses all four spots: between third, short, second and first. He’s either taken a liking to it, or somebody has really told him, ‘This is a significant weapon for you.'”

Smith will be a pile of fun in spring training, and it will be interesting to see how much his bunting focus wears off on teammates, if at all.

Of course, Smith could find himself in Durham on opening day, which would say a lot about how much the Rays value speed.


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