During the Aeros batting practice Thursday, I saw something really odd that made me do a double take. Instead of standing around in the outfield shagging balls where he usually does, outfielder Brian Barton was lined up with a handful of infielders taking ground balls at short.
What? I stood up and walked a little closer to make sure that what I thought I saw was really happening. Indeed, there was the lanky 6-foot-3 Barton trying his best to blend in with all the quick little infielders.
"Don't stand straight up when you throw!'' Aeros manager Tim Bogar offered to Barton between hitting grounders to the group. "You're legs are too stiff!''
"Here, try it again, and this time stay through it when you throw,'' Bogar said, slapping another ball toward a concentrating Barton. "There you go!''
Minor leaguers are always a target for a position change. Especially minor leaguer's like Barton, who can hit. It's called making a spot for them to get their bat in a major league line up.
Remember when the Indians suddenly decided to try and move outfielder Trevor Crowe to second base at the end of the Aeros season last year? Crowe tried so hard to hurry and make the transition, it totally affected his offense, which up to that point had been superb. In fact, some of his struggles this season could even be linked to that failed experiment, leaving Crowe to feel he has to get to Cleveland NOW.
So Barton taking balls with the infielders led me, as well as a few other interested observers, to wonder if the Tribe's deep thinkers were considering tinkering with a position change for Barton. In made sense in that the outfield is a position at which they have a lot of depth.
But short? Now that seemed rediculous. Barton is a power hitter. If a move was a must, third base would certainly be a better fit for him. So what in the world was going on?
After Thursday's win, I asked Bogar about the strange events earlier in the day. He smiled, than assured me Barton was not being moved.
"It's just to work on his throwing,'' Bogar said. "We're just trying to get his feet and body under control. It's just easier to do it in the infield. It's just drill work. He's not playing shortstop, he's not going to play third, he's not going to be in the infield...I Promise. I'll quit if that happens.''
Ah baseball, I love the endless possibilities each day brings. There's always way more going on behind the scenes than just during the game itself.
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