Matthews: New-age defense moves beyond the infield

From Wallace Matthews at on August 29, 2016:

As each opposing batter steps to the plate, you might notice New York Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner do something you would not expect: He often removes and repositions his cap as if to adjust it, a curious move for a player who shaves his head almost daily.

So does Jacoby Ellsbury, who has a full head of hair, and so does Aaron Hicks, who like Gardner, has taken a blade to complete the job that Mother Nature started.

But Gardner is not repositioning that cap for comfort, or checking to see if his long-departed hair has miraculously returned.

He, like the others, is checking to be sure he is standing where he is supposed to be standing — a hidden aspect of big league defense that goes beyond the infield and is finally getting some of the spotlight.

When it comes to positioning their outfielders, the Yankees literally keep the information under their hats. Before each game, bench coach Rob Thomson, responsible for the outfield defense, gives Gardner, center fielder Ellsbury, right fielder Hicks and rookie outfielder Aaron Judge an index card with precise locations for each opposing hitter.

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Originally published: August 29, 2016. Last Updated: August 29, 2016.