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TC, Maddon early roles in shifting strategy

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Terry Collins played a role in the early days of the defensive shift. His role was accepting the ideas of his bench coach with the Angels in the late 1990s, Joe Maddon, who has gone on to take it to the extreme as skipper of the Tampa Bay Rays.

"When it comes to defense, I remember my very rudimentary attempt at the computer at that time. The guy's name was Bill Kahale. ... He brought out this first real dinosaur-esque computer system to chart defenses, or chart action. I remember once specifically: TC is in the manager's office in Anaheim talking to Sparky Anderson. Sparky was doing some games [as a broadcaster]. And I brought in [Ken] Griffey [Jr.]'s chart. And I said, 'TC, what do you think if we did this?' He looked at it and said, 'Got for it.'

Steve Mitchell/US Presswire

Joe Maddon's early dabbling with extreme fielding shifts came as bench coach on Terry Collins' staff with the Angels in the late 1990s.

"So that's how that pretty much began with the shifting. I had his support to do it. Because of that it was easy. And then, after that, it just started to become more and more. A lot of it was computer-generated. At that time everyone took the pencils out and drew in the different colors based on your pitcher. And there were some cute little things about that. Eventually, when you did it that way, it just became one big, colorful page, which it looked like a rainbow almost, because lines would run into one another.

"And you'd get to the point where you were not really able to determine anything. The really rudimentary computer permitted you to query it -- maybe for the last 25 at-bats, or 50, and at last start breaking down some more recent tendencies. TC was open-minded about that. I was grateful about that. TC always permitted us to coach, without interference. That was great.

"He let me run the spring trainings. And I had a different way of doing that -- computer-based. People made fun of me a lot. I absorbed all of that. But, at that time, honestly, I was so tired of seeing things written on a napkin and thumbtacked to a wall. Or the handwritten thing that really didn't cover it all. It was very noncomplete. And so when the computer came along, it permitted you to do that. So if you had to make a last-minute change, you could, and still present something that looked pro. Again, TC was very open to that.

"Actually [former Angels manager] Marcel [Lachemann] was very open to it. In 1995, when we had the strike, that was my first attempt at it in the big leagues, because I always did it in the minor leagues. It was perfect with the replacement players, to try all this new stuff on them. And I did. So everything was resolved. Here come the regular guys back. And Marcel permitted me to do this. And then eventually TC accepted it, too."