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A shift on defense, and in thinking

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ST. LOUIS -- The remark came from one of the Cardinals' starters on Monday as second baseman Kolten Wong fielded the ground ball in short right field and threw on to first for an out that was routine only because of Wong's unorthodox positioning.

"Man," the pitcher said. "I just love that shift."

Manager Mike Matheny heard, and he grinned as he relayed the story a day later. When the Cardinals first started incorporating more aggressive defensive shifting under Matheny two seasons ago, he had pushback from some of the pitchers. Not all of them wanted to pitch to the shift, and frustration would sometimes show when balls got through the infield because of the shift.

Gradually, as more data has been shared and on-field proof of success has piled up, there has been more of a buy-in.

"It really wasn't something I had seen enough information to be completely sold on as well," Matheny confessed on Tuesday. "I'm just as guilty, or was. We just continue to get information, continue to share it with the guys and just open conversation."

The Cardinals have shown that they will be more aggressive with their defensive shifting this season. The organization is also going to incorporate infield shifting at the Minor League levels to prepare their players for it.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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