There is no exact definition that the St. Louis Cardinals were looking for when they decided to make a change and move Mike Shildt to third-base coach.
“It’s all situational based,” agreed Shildt. “You’re just ready to put yourself in the best position to think ahead of time to know what’s going on with the score, with where we are in the lineup, with some factor of how we’re playing. Sometimes you’ve just got to be push or be a little less aggressive. More or less, just sit there and think about different scenarios and then when they come up, you’re prepared for them.”
Including time before he joined the Cardinals, Shildt estimates that he has spent around 20 seasons coaching third base. He manned the spot under Mark DeJohn early in the minors and also cites Jose Oquendo as a big influence.
“I spent a lot of time over the years talking to him and studying him–just trying to pick his brain,” said Shildt. “Putting myself in the best position to understand where we are in the lineup, where we are in the game, doing the prep work with outfield arms and their tendencies with where they come and get the ball, how deep they play. Just putting a lot of the puzzle, so when the ball’s hit it’s really just about speed of the ball and the situation of the game.”
“We always want to err on the side of aggression,” added Shildt. “Aggressive players are winning players, championship players. But aggressive players are also intelligent when to push, so aggressive is relative.”
It didn’t take long for Shildt to be tested as Matt Carpenter hit a double with two runners on base in Saturday’s win over Philadelphia. With no outs and the lead, Shildt held up Carlos Martinez at third.
“When you stop Carlos, that really in some degree is an aggressive play because it allows the rest of our offense to be aggressive behind him with Dexter, Stephen, and Jedd,” said Shildt. “It’s situational and sometimes you just have to make a decision that’s kind of in between and you make the best decision based on the information you have.”
Gyorko later delivered a sacrifice fly to score Martinez.
“I know our base running has taken a little bit of a hit situationally, based on pickoffs, overrunning bases, that’s been an issue,” added Shildt. “But if you look at how we’ve gone first to third, second to home, first to home and things that–it’s all controllable. We’ve improved dramatically in some of those areas I don’t think we’ve gotten credit for.”
Coming soon will be a look at how Mike Shildt’s role with the outfielders is already making a difference as well.