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Once-reluctant Sandberg embracing the shift

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Once-reluctant Sandberg embracing the shift play video for Once-reluctant Sandberg embracing the shift

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies are using defensive shifts under manager Ryne Sandberg, joining a trend that is spreading throughout the Major Leagues.

"We're making some decisions on information as far as spray charts and tendencies and things like that and scouting reports," Sandberg said before Tuesday night's game against the Blue Jays, a club that shifts its defense more than most. "It's been pretty effective the first time around actually applying it and trying it. It makes sense with certain hitters, with their tendencies. When you don't see a guy make an adjustment and swing the same way, it is an effective defensive play."

Before games, Sandberg and bench coach Larry Bowa go over spray charts and scouting reports for each hitter and develop a strategy on how to defend them. They work with the infielders, and first-base coach Juan Samuel coordinates with the outfielders.

"The infielders and the outfielders get that [information], and they play accordingly," Sandberg said. "We make adjustments depending on swings and depending on if the hitter makes an adjustment or not."

The Phillies rarely shifted their defense with Charlie Manuel as manager. Sandberg said he did not think shifts would be a part of his defensive philosophy either, but he changed his mind before this year's Spring Training.

"When it's right there in black and white, it's worth something to apply it," Sandberg said. "This is something new for me. I really saw it last year used a lot against us, and so it made sense to look at that closer and look at the facts and try it. And it's been effective."

Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jalaymance. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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