Dyson shows what speed can do with bunt
CLEVELAND -- Jarrod Dyson got his first bunt hit of the season on Tuesday night, but he's certain it won't be his last.
"That's part of my game," he said.
Dyson is getting his first chance to see regular duty as the Royals' center fielder with Lorenzo Cain (groin) on the disabled list. Because of Dyson's great speed -- he's one of the fastest players in the game -- the bunt is one of his weapons.
"I guarantee you I work on it every chance I get," Dyson said.
A lot of his work is done against pitching machines in batting cages under the stands and Dyson carries it over into on-field batting practice.
"Even in BP, you see me bunting, see me slashing all the time," he said. "That's part of my game. I can't get away from that, no matter how I'm swinging the bat. I just can't get away from my bunting game."
Bunting is an art and last year, despite his limited playing time, he tied for second in the American League with 10 bunt hits. But Dyson will tell you it's not as easy as it looks.
"Everybody thinks it's easy to get up there and just put a ball where you want to put it. If it was that easy, I think a lot more people would be bunters," he said.
"It's more difficult nowadays because pitchers are more effective with their pitches, they're cuttin' it, they're sinkin' it. Nothing is straight nowadays. You've got to really lock in when you bunt because it can easily miss your barrel by a half-inch and it can be a dead out."
It's tough on Dyson, too, because the other team is always looking for the bunt.
"That's my game and the more they try to defend it, the better I've got to get," Dyson said.
"I'm always stepping out of the box, reading the field to see what I've got out there -- if I've got a chance to bring it down third, if I've got a chance to bring it down first. Every now and then, they're going to take it from me, but you've still got to lay it down to let 'em know you ain't afraid."
Dyson's bunt on Tuesday night scored Alcides Escobar with the fourth run of an 8-2 victory over the Indians. The ball scooted right down the line toward first baseman Nick Swisher.
"I honestly wanted to get it past the pitcher," Dyson said. "I wanted Swish to come and try to get it because I know if I've got Swisher and the pitcher running toward it, I've got to beat the second baseman there [to first], and that's a foot race and that's pretty easy."
Not exactly where Dyson wanted the ball, but it worked as Swisher rushed in to field the ball and threw way too late as Dyson flashed across the bag ahead of the second baseman, and Escobar crossed the plate.
"It's like a doomed play, you don't have to do much there," Dyson said.
"I know if I'm playing every day I'm going to attempt a bunt every game. That's my game, I can't get away from it no matter what. I can be swinging a dead-red hot bat and I'm still going to bunt."
Sure enough, in the fifth inning on Wednesday night, Dyson dropped his second bunt hit in two games.
Trying to beat a chopper into the ground and beat it out is not part of Dyson's game plan.
"I don't try to do that. Honestly, I don't look good trying to slap the ball around," he said. "I'm not trying to get the head out and hit bombs, but I'm not trying to beat balls in the ground 24/7. My objective when I got to the box is I want to hit a line drive. Worse case scenario, I want a ground ball."
What Dyson tries to avoid is getting the bat head under the ball and hitting popups or lazy fly balls. That doesn't benefit his speed game. He's going for the line drive or a hard grounder through the hole.
"I'd rather hit a legit single and cruise on into first, steal second and take my chances from there," he said.
Nevertheless, Dyson did beat out a chopper for the second of his three hits in Wednesday night's 5-3 loss to the Indians.