Infielders working to cut down base thefts
Macha preaches preventative defense to Escobar, Weeks
TUCSON, Ariz. -- After allowing five stolen bases against San Diego on Friday, shortstop Alcides Escobar and second baseman Rickie Weeks spent the morning working with pitchers on holding runners.
"That is going to be a point of emphasis with [bench coach] Willie [Randolph]," manager Ken Macha said. "We addressed it [Saturday] but today there is a plan of attack. We work on it every day. You can work on it, but if you are not paying attention during the game, it doesn't matter.
"We have a young shortstop and we need for him to understand 100 percent concentration on every play."
Macha pointed to the Brewers' Jim Edmonds, who has won eight Gold Gloves, and how his game awareness makes a difference.
"He watches the catcher and he has an idea about the hitter," Macha said. "He sees the catcher set up, that pitchers makes that pitch and the ball is hit in right-center he is gone already. That comes with being in the outfield for 15 years."
Macha is happy overall with Escobar and knows you have to take the good with the bad, as with most rookies.
"He made a great play [Saturday] up the middle," he said. "I don't know if he was leaning that way, knew the location. Don't get me wrong, I love the great play, but these are the steps that will make you even better than where your physical talents will take you.
"Cal Ripken knew all hitters. He didn't have the greatest range, but he always made all of the plays. That will separate you from being a talented athlete to a tremendous fielder."
Macha also said he had a talk with center fielder Carlos Gomez a while back about what kind of expectations there are for him this season after being obtained in a deal with Minnesota for shortstop J.J. Hardy.
"He wanted to know where he stood and I told him a .290 on-base percentage wouldn't put him in good standing," Macha said. "If he is getting on at .360 or so, that would be good. I don't care if he doesn't hit any home runs."
Macha made the point of telling the former Mets prospect that he just needed to find his way on the basepaths.
"All I want him to do is get on base -- I had a little sit down with him," the manager said. "If he hits the ball all over the field, bloops the ball in, dribbles some and gets on base, that's all that matters. And he certainly has shown that he is almost automatic [in stealing bases.]"
Jason P. Skoda is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.