In the always-changing landscape of Major League Baseball, defensive positioning has never been a higher priority. Nary a game goes by where teams don’t use a defensive shift — deploying their fielders to atypical spots on the diamond — to take advantage of a hitter’s tendencies. On Friday the Mets saw the Dodgers trying to take the science to an entirely different level and were none too happy about it.
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said club personnel spotted members of the Dodgers organization using laser technology to “establish defensive positions” for their outfielders at Citi Field and that they wanted to put markers on the field before the game so outfielders would know where to play against different Mets hitters.
The Mets halted their efforts and then contacted Major League Baseball to alert it about the Dodgers’ methods. FoxSports.com first detailed the Mets actions.
“We observed some members of the Dodgers organization using technology to establish defensive positions, presumably to use during the game. We weren’t sure that was appropriate,” Alderson said. “Major League Baseball is going to look at that issue.”
Asked if he’d ever seen anything like that in his 35 seasons in baseball, Alderson replied, “I haven’t encountered that in the number of years I have been around.”
Using such technology — the Dodgers use a laser rangefinder — during a game is a violation of baseball rules, however the Dodgers claim that they use it before a series at Dodger Stadium and that other teams have asked permission to put markers down and they have permitted it.
Unable to use the technology before Friday’s series opener, L.A. outfielder Howie Kendrick was spotted consulting notes in his back pocket for positioning during Friday’s television broadcast.
“No. 1, we do a lot with analytics and preparing our fielders,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “And so as far as a laser in-game, that has never been the case nor will it ever, unless it is allowed by Major League Baseball, which I don’t foresee. So this is something where, before a series, [we do] to help place our outfielders with depth.”
Roberts said they asked permission to place markers and the request was denied. The Mets said no request was made. A report said the Dodgers warned they’d use their cleats, pock the outfield, to mark the turf.
“They declined, which is their prerogative, so we made other adjustments,” Roberts said. “There is no range finder during the game. There is no threat to mess up the field and dig up their field. It’s something that in baseball, where positioning has become a top priority, everyone is doing it. People have used it at our place.”
Alderson said the Mets reached out to MLB because “marking the field seemed to go beyond the rule book.” Manager Terry Collins added “you just don’t go paint somebody else’s field.”