‘One of the best plays I’ve seen.’ Bobby Witt Jr. wows Royals with defensive gem

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Mike Matheny played in the majors for 13 seasons, and has been a manager for a decade, the last three years with the Royals.

In that time, Matheny has seen a lot of sensational defensive plays. But few have rivaled one made Saturday by Royals rookie shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. in the sixth inning of KC’s 9-7 loss to Oakland at Kauffman Stadium.

Rookie A’s infielder Jonah Bride hit a grounder into the hole between shortstop and third base. At first, it seemed the ball may roll to left field, but Witt got a glove on it, jumped and let the ball fly.

MLB.com said Witt unleashed a 75.6 mph throw to get Bride after a great scoop by first baseman Carlos Santana.

“That was one of the best plays I’ve seen. I’m just amazed at the carry Bobby has from different angles and having no legs under him on that one at all,” Matheny said. “It was a nice play on the backside by Carlos to pick the short hop.

“But the carry (Witt) gets, the ball off the bat, I didn’t think he was going to get to it, first of all, and then to be able to get off the throw, and then to put that much on it, is very unique.”

Witt didn’t make a big deal of the play after the game.

“It’s kind of one of those reactionary plays that just kind of happens. You will sometimes do it when you’re messing around during BP or something,” Witt said matter-of-factly. “It’s kind of one of those fun reactionary plays.

“And luckily, it happened. So I just saw it going to my right, fielded it and just kind of jumped to kind of help with timing and just kind of get some more on the throw.”

Catcher Cam Gallagher had a great view of the play and was wowed by what he saw.

“That was pretty remarkable. I didn’t even think he had a chance to get the ball, let alone make the play and finish and get the out,” Gallagher said. “Just shows what kind of special talent he is. He’s flying all over the field, doing stuff offensively, defensively, on the base paths.

“He’s an electric player so it’s cool to kind of watch him do his thing.”

Witt also hit his 11th home run of the season Saturday, a solo shot in the third inning. He is tied for the team lead in that category.

Starting pitcher Brad Keller senses Witt is becoming accustomed to life in the big leagues.

“You see him kind of come into himself every single day now, get more and more comfortable every time he goes out there,” Keller said. “It’s a lot of fun to watch and I’m excited to continue watching his progression and watch him be the stud that he is.”