Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Newest Cardinal Learning Tricks from the Oldest

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Newest Cardinal Learning Tricks from the Oldest

Article excerpt

If you ask Delino DeShields who has helped him the most this spring, the answer is the same as it has been for the thousands of Cardinals players who have preceded him here - George Kissell.

DeShields has been one of the major league's best basestealers for several years in spite of a mediocre on-base percentage near .300. But now he has come in contact with the Cardinals' 76-year-old guru, who has worked extensively with him this spring on his bunting.

DeShields says Kissell, the Cardinals' longtime field coordinator, has made a difference. "He's made me believe that I can do that," DeShields said. DeShields has bunted for at least three hits in a 20-for-45 start this spring, although he was hitless Tuesday in a 3-1 loss to the Texas Rangers. His .444 average is about twice what he finished with last season when he limped through an injury-plagued year with the Los Angeles Dodgers at .224. Manager Tony La Russa says he can envision DeShields, a lefthanded hitter, drawing in the third baseman a couple of steps and then slapping the ball by him. "But," DeShields said, "I have the confidence now that if I put down a good bunt, it's going to be bang-bang (at first base). That's George. He's been preaching to me from Day One. Placement. Placement. Placement. Placement. That's the key to bunting. "It's not how fast you get out of the box. It's the good bunt. George Kissell, man. He teaches you to do it your way. He doesn't try to make you clone anybody else or he doesn't say, `This is the way you have to do it.' As a player, I appreciate that." Kissell said that bunting "gives you another weapon. What it also does is make you watch the ball better. When that third baseman comes in - pow! - you drive it through them. Now you've got them eating off your plate." Then Kissell said, tapping his head, "I'll tell you what. (DeShields) has got a little bit up there. He proved that to me the other day. We were two runs behind and the count was 2-0. He ran the guy to 3-1, fouled off a pitch and took another one for a base on balls. Most guys would have been up there cranking away. "He knows the value of getting on base when you're behind. …

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