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V-Mart, Avila demonstrate trick to thwart shift

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V-Mart, Avila demonstrate trick to thwart shift

DETROIT -- Tigers manager Brad Ausmus has said for a while that the recent trend toward aggressive infield shifts would soon have a countertrend. The sight of Victor Martinez and Alex Avila both laying down bunts against the shift Wednesday suggests the counter has arrived.

Both bunts came on the first pitch leading off an inning, when the priority was simply to get on base. Both bunts went foul, though Martinez's second-inning attempt rolled for a while before finally veering to the wrong side of the foul line. Avila's fifth-inning try was clearly foul off the bat. Neither ball had a defender in the neighborhood when it rolled foul.

"I did like to see it, try to make something happen," Ausmus said. "I've said that the shifts have kind of gotten out of hand, and I think you have to counteract them. We haven't actually talked to Victor about it, but we've talked with Alex about it. Alex has even come out and practiced it.

"Shoot, if you're leading off an inning and they're going to give you that, take it. Get on base, because we need baserunners. The only way you can score is if you can get on base."

Neither hitter tried to bunt again, though Avila didn't rule out the possibility of bunting on a second pitch or later.

"A lot of teams, to defend against that for guys that they shift on, they move a guy up," Avila said. "And then after a strike, they move them back."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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