Outfielders Take Knee, Infielders Move Up In New 'Jason Varitek Shift'

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Outfielders Take Knee, Infielders Move Up In New 'Jason Varitek Shift'

BOSTON—As the 2009 baseball season progresses, major-league managers are defending against Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek by employing what they call the "Varitek Shift," a defensive maneuver in which infielders move up past the pitcher's mound and outfielders take a knee and relax. "It's very effective," Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire told reporters. "If Jason makes contact with the ball, which is rare in itself, he usually hits slow dribblers that catch infielders by surprise because of how weak they're hit. So, by moving the infielders up, and having the pitcher rush home plate after the pitch has been thrown, [Varitek] has virtually no chance of reaching base. If runners are on when he comes up, we may have the outfielders cover first, second, and third to ensure a double or triple play." Gardenhire added that it doesn't matter if the switch-hitting Varitek bats right- or left-handed, as the shift is foolproof.