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Red Sox infielders have something under their hats (literally)

Rob Bradford
March 25, 2018 - 6:16 pm

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It was almost if the four Red Sox infielders had choreographed the whole thing.

After each Minnesota batter was retired the group consisting of third baseman Rafael Devers, shortstop Xander Bogaerts, second baseman Eduardo Nunez and first baseman Hanley Ramirez immediately all took off their hats and looked straight down into the red headwear. After a few seconds, the group -- seemingly in unison -- put the caps back on, only to execute the process again after the second out.

"It's about winning," said Ramirez when asked about the process.

The Red Sox hope so.

In reality, what it is really about is a new way of doing things. The Red Sox' infielders are taking a page out of the playbook of teams like the Astros and Dodgers, carrying cue cards (or cheat sheets, take your pick) telling them where to shift to during different situations. (The outfielders are not partaking.)

Hitter. Pitcher. Righty. Lefty. Outs. All of the variances are incorporated for the infielders to digest after each out, residing on a small, laminated card that fits nicely atop of the players' heads.

It is all part of the evolution of positioning players, with the Red Sox' offering a level of defensive analytics this season that they simply didn't utilize a year ago. Using the cards is just an avenue to filtering the information to the people who actually need it the most, the players.

"Before we look at the batter. We look at the pitcher. Now we look into our hat," Nunez said. "It's different."

Judging by the players' routines throughout Sunday's game, with each infielder taking off their hat on between virtually every of the opponent's at-bat, the routine has been put in place. But even after what has been a couple of weeks of games practicing the new system, it's clear it's going to take some time for complete comfort. (That was highlighted in one moment where Bogaerts dropped his card on the infield dirt while referring to print out.)

"It's a new era for baseball. There are so many things that are new," Nunez said. "So much technology. So we have to make adjustments in dealing with it. I think it will make baseball better, but for us it's sometimes uncomfortable. It's a lot of information."

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