Villar's movement in Piscotty AB causes delay

April 21st, 2017

MILWAUKEE -- Defensive shifts have had a great impact on Major League Baseball in recent years, at times providing unique situations with fielders moved all over the diamond.

Such an instance took place Thursday at Miller Park. The Brewers employed a shift with right-handed-hitting at the plate with a runner on third and two outs in the top of the first inning.

Second baseman was positioned behind pitcher and in the line of sight of Piscotty. Home plate umpire Ted Barrett deemed Villar to be moving around excessively and halted play.

The game resumed after Barrett had a short conversation with Brewers manager Craig Counsell, and Piscotty struck out swinging to end the inning.

"I think the umpire was as bothered by it as [Piscotty] was," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "We did get the actual rule from upstairs. I think when you are going side to side, that's what looked different to us. We have guys that move late all the time, but not one side and back to the other.

"I think at that point the umpire realized it, he was in his line of view too, and it was distracting."

Rule 6.04 (c) states: No fielder shall take a position in the batter's line of vision, and with deliberate unsportsmanlike intent, act in a manner to distract the batter.

The penalty calls for the offender to be removed from the game, and if a balk was called for it to be nullified.

It is a situation not often seen when defenses are in standard alignment and came up only because of a defensive shift. Villar was not forced to come out of the game Thursday, and there was no further issue the rest of the game.

"They thought he had moved around too much," Counsell said. "He can't intentionally distract the hitter. He certainly can move around, but he can't intentionally distract the hitter. I have seen it. Not with us, but I have seen it in other games, yeah. It's a newer issue with the shifting, for sure."