1. A line drive hit directly at an outfielder can be a tough play. “I drop back a foot when the ball is behind me. You always stay low and be ready to pounce. You don’t want to over-react,” he said. “Stay as low as possible.”
2. Outfielders need to help each other out when balls are into the gap, be it the right-center alley or the leftcenter
alley. “Me personally, I go as hard as I can to try and cut the ball off with the shortest route possible to the ball,” Kepler said. “If it is a sure double I want to get a good route around the ball so I don’t bobble it.”
3. With a man on second and a single to the outfield, it is important to keep in control of your body as you field the ball and then make a throw to home. “The main key is to keep low to the ground,” he said. “You don’t want to be sailing balls. Keep the throw low and hit the cutoff man.”
4. It is vital that an outfielder and infielder communicate well on a popup that appears to be between them. “Be loud. Let them know that you are coming and you have a chance to catch the ball,” Kepler said. “If it is 10 feet off the infield dirt it is their ball. If you see the infielder under the ball let him have it.”
5. It is important for an outfielder to backup plays that are hit to other outfielders, and also back up the bases on rundowns that begin with the infielders. Kepler says he has to be sure to backup speedy Twins center fielder Byron Buxton, who likes to try and making diving catches in front of him on line drives. “You have to be there to support that,” Kepler said. “Backing up groundballs is huge. It is important when a groundball goes through the infield” to be there.
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Posted on 05/10/2018 at 08:15 AM