Now we've seen it all: Royals deploy seven-man outfield against Miguel Cabrera

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit — Just when you think you’ve seen every kind of defensive alignment possible, the Kansas City Royals draw up a seven-man outfield scheme for Miguel Cabrera on Monday night.

Seven-man outfield, you say?

When Cabrera came to bat in the bottom of the first, the Royals spaced their infielders on their normal sides of second base — third baseman Maikel Franco and shortstop Adalberto Mondesi on the left side and first baseman Ryan O’Hearn and second baseman Whit Merrifield on the right side.

Except all four were positioned on the outfield grass, the left side fielders deeper than the right side.

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Tigers' Miguel Cabrera chats with Royals catcher Salvador Perez before heading to first on a walk during Monday's game.

“That was interesting,” manager Ron Gardenhire said after the game. “We hadn’t seen that, but I can see their thinking. Miggy doesn’t run like he once did.”

Cabrera lined a single in his first at-bat, walked twice and ground out twice into that shift.

“A lot of it has to do with our arms,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “Maikel Franco can throw across the infield and Mondi has the plus arm. It is sort of one of those things where we’ll always look to see how we can gain an advantage.”

Later in the game, O’Hearn moved just a step onto the dirt against Cabrera, with the others still back on the outfield grass.

“We talked about it and kind of studied the thing out,” Gardenhire said. “And I’m sure they’ve done their homework on it. But when they were spread out like that, playing 7 to 10 yards deep on the grass, it sure looked like there were more holes than with the other shift.

“It would be interesting to see if he hit one in the middle of that and see if they could throw him out at first base.”

Stay tuned. The Royals could have more defensive tricks up their sleeve in this series.

Twitter: @cmccosky