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Isotopes Notebook: Buss battles shifty Bees

Isotopes outfielder Nick Buss has seen the Salt Lake Bees employ a defensive shift against him.
Isotopes outfielder Nick Buss has seen the Salt Lake Bees employ a defensive shift against him.
Courtesy of the Albuquerque Isotopes, used with permission

Extreme defensive shifts have become a more frequent sight in Major League Baseball these days. So it should probably come as no surprise that the trend is trickling down to the Pacific Coast League as well.

In the first two games of the series, as well as the prior series in Salt Lake, the Bees have employed a noticeable defensive shift. The odd thing is that they only use it against one member of the Albuquerque Isotopes, right fielder Nick Buss.

“I actually don’t feel too bad at the plate, I’ve been hitting some balls hard, but the shift is getting me,” Buss said. “But it’s just on me to adapt and I’ve got to work through it. It’s just part of baseball. They’re doing it effectively to me. I’ve got to make some changes.”

When Buss comes to the plate, the Bees move their shortstop right behind second base. Then the second baseman moves halfway between there and first base.

The third baseman, in turn, plays a little in just in case Buss thinks of bunting. During the ninth inning Tuesday, Buss tried to bunt to the left side, but Luis Jimenez pounced on it and threw him out.

“It’s one of those things where this particular club is playing a drastic shift,” manager Damon Berryhill said. “You want to say, ‘OK, Chili, try to shoot through the shortstop hole. But on the other hand we want you to maintain your swing.’ They played the shift on him and have probably taken away five or six hits, mainly base hits up the middle.”

Buss said he just accepts that this is another challenge he has to overcome. He has not hit (.250/.323/.380, HR, 16 RBI) up to his own expectations this season, though the shift has certainly not had that much to do with it.

“Ultimately I don’t want to be a guy who’s considered somebody who just pulls the ball,” Buss said. “Good hitters are able to use all of the field. Once I’m comfortable and doing what I need to do I don’t think the shift will be an issue.”

Berryhill just does not want Buss to tinker too much. Sometimes hitters can overdo it on the adjustments and get completely out of whack.

“The one thing you don’t want to do is try to manipulate your swing to the point where you end up messing up your swing,” Berryhill said. “You can take opportunities to try to lay down a drag bunt. He laid down a nice bunt (but) the kid made a nice play on him bare-handed and threw across (in time).

“He did get the one base hit through the hole (in the fourth inning). It’s one of those things where you don’t want to mess with it too much. You look at the balls he’s hit, if he elevates those a bit those are driven balls to the gap.”

Another day, another set of roster moves

The Dodgers got a little busy before their game in Minnesota, recalling catcher Miguel Olivo from the Isotopes. In turn, struggling catcher Tim Federowicz was sent back down, though he will get 72 hours to report.

Olivo has hit well (.390/.438/.661, 4 HR, 18 RBI) with the Isotopes this season. He had been playing sporadically of late, with only two starts since April 21.

Federowicz began the season in Albuquerque, going 0-for-2 in his only game before the Dodgers recalled him to replace the injured A.J. Ellis. Federowicz went just 5-for-46 in 13 games in Los Angeles.

To take the open spot on the roster, and because they needed a starter for Wednesday's game, the Isotopes added right-hander Carlos Frias from Double-A Chattanooga. The 24-year-old pitched well (2-1, 3.38 ERA) in five starts with the Lookouts.

More moves will be coming Thursday as the Dodgers are expected to recall right-hander Red Patterson (1-1, 4.15) for their doubleheader in Minnesota. Infielder Carlos Triunfel (.291/.344/.364), who is already back in Albuquerque, will likely rejoin the active roster Thursday. He was sent down by the Dodgers on Monday.

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