- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Known for his love of distinct defensive shifts, Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon was back at it again Monday night, employing a four-man outfield to try and stop Cincinnati Reds slugger Joey Votto.

In the top of the fifth inning of Chicago’s 15-5 win and Votto at the plate, Maddon instructed third baseman Kris Bryant to play left-center field between left fielder Kyle Schwarber and center fielder Jon Jay, Jason Heyward manning right field.

Unfazed by the odd positioning, Vottoroped a double down the right-field line.

“No matter the infield setup, no matter the alignment of the infield or outfield, I do the exact same thing,” Votto told MLB.com. “It’s when I get caught up in what’s going on defensively when I get myself into trouble, [like] changing my approach. If that turns out to be a detriment to hitting balls in the outfield, then I clearly have to hit it over the outfield and into the stands. That was also something I was thinking about doing.”

The 33-year old has had a torrid start to August, hitting .435 with an otherworldly OPS of 1.370. He’s also reached base safely at least twice in 19 straight games, a franchise-record streak he extended Monday night with three hits.

Votto right now is ungodly,” Maddon said afterwards. “Whatever you do, you’re taking chances anyhow. It’s almost like Tony Gwynn when he was good and moving when the ball was pitched to try to be in the right spot or distract him.”

The 2015 NL Manager of the Year also noted he used a four-man outfield several times when he was manager of the Tampa Bay Rays, and didn’t rule out doing so again.

“We’ll continue to throw it out there when we think it’s the right thing to do,” Maddon told the Chicago Tribune.

As one of the members of the odd alignment Monday, Jay said he enjoyed the innovative, if ineffective, defensive shift.

“It’s kind of cool,” Jay said. “It’s smart. Joey is an unbelievable hitter and does a lot of damage, and we’re just trying to defend it to that point. Communication can get little dicey out there. It was something different, but made a lot of sense.”

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