It's a part of baseball that used to be an essential concept of a team's offense. But since the era of Ruth and the live baseball, the art of the bunt has diminished more and more among players who would rather try and hit the ball to the moon rather than square around and as Rogers Hornsby would say, "hit it where they ain't."
That isn't true for new Rays outfielder Mallex Smith, who again spent a significant portion of his voluntary workout Thursday working with instructor Ozzie Timmons on his bunting.
"It's a great part of my game," Smith told me Thursday. "I'm a speed guy. I like to use my legs, and bunting is a direct part of that game. If I can get the bunt down in a good spot, then my speed takes over, and I can get on base and cause havoc."
Plus, it's a routine that manager Kevin Cash said he has never seen out of a player.
"Ozzie Timmons [Durham's hitting coach, and a special instructor during the spring] was bunting with him [Wednesday], and we were talking about it after the workout, and said it was probably the most impressive routine he's ever seen," Cash said. "He starts and he's squatting down like a catcher and bunting everywhere. Most guys bunt 1st base, third base. Mallex uses all four spots: between third, short, second and first. He's either taken a liking to it, or somebody has really told him, 'This is a significant weapon for you.'
"I'm actually intrigued to learn, because all we hear about is that he's a great bunter."
Smith says the use of the entire field is they key for a good bunt.
"Placement is everything," the outfielder explained. "If I put the ball in a good place, it's almost impossible to make a good play on me."
Hear more from the new Rays outfielder below!