BOSTON -- Sixteen steps back and seven steps to the left. This is how far Boston second baseman Mark Loretta travels to steal base hits from New York's Jason Giambi and, in a perfect world, plant a smidgen of doubt in the Giambino's mind.
Loretta's maneuver isn't as complex as, say, the Cotton-Eyed Joe, but it's effective. Giambi, fourth in the American League with a .422 on-base percentage, is batting .263 this season. If not for these specially designed defenses, he estimates that his average would be closer to .300.
Giambi's frustration shows through when he recalls a play from a recent series against Baltimore. He scorched a line drive beyond the infield dirt, only to watch the ball skitter into the waiting mitt of second baseman Brian Roberts, who scooped it up and threw him out at first base.