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Porter stresses proper defensive alignments

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KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Astros manager Bo Porter took steps Sunday to make sure his players would be in proper defensive position the next time the team employs a shift on a left-handed hitter and sees a baserunner heading toward third base.

In Saturday's win over the Phillies, Chase Utley was able to go from first to third base on a ground ball hit to the right side of the infield while the Astros were employing a shift on Ryan Howard. The pitcher was supposed to cover third base, but didn't.

"It was actually something we worked on in practice just the day before it happened," Porter said. "We addressed it as a staff this morning and in our meetings and when we got the guys out here today. Before we got into the fundamental of cutoffs and relays, we addressed it again with the pitchers."

The Astros won't be shy about using the shift during the regular season, Porter said. He said if the spray charts and data show a player is likely to hit the ball to a certain portion of the field, they will align their defense properly.

"We pride ourselves from a defensive standpoint on fielding the portion of the field the guy has the greatest capability of hitting the ball to," he said.

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