Players like David Ortiz may have a future in the NL now that the league is reportedly receptive to the idea of adopting the designated hitter rule.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred acknowledges the possibility of adding the designated hitter to the National League is “gaining momentum” among baseball’s owners. The switch could be made as early as 2017 with the current collective bargaining agreement set to expire on Dec. 1.
“Twenty years ago, when you talked to National League owners about the DH, you’d think you were talking some sort of heretical comment,” Manfred told reporters Thursday at the owners meetings in Coral Gables, Fla. “But we have a newer group. There’s been turnover. And I think our owners in general have demonstrated a willingness to change the game in ways that we think would be good for the fans, always respecting the history and traditions of the sport.”
MLB’s chief baseball officer Joe Torre stressed “there really hasn’t been any conversation” yet about unifying rules among the two leagues regarding the DH, which has been used in the American League since 1973.
Several pitchers have suffered injuries while batting in recent years, and the players’ union has been in favor of expanding use of the DH because it would translate into several more high-paying jobs.
In interleague games, including the World Series, the DH currently is used only in American League parks.
Manfred, who replaced Bud Selig as commissioner before last season, added there is “a certain purity” to all teams playing under unified rules, but “the biggest remnant of league identity is the difference between DH and no DH.”
MLB owners also approved a proposal to push back the non-waiver trade deadline this year to Aug. 1 because July 31 falls on a Sunday and the league hopes to avoid having so many players on the field during afternoon games if they are on the verge of being dealt. The trade deadline last was moved — from June 15 to July 31 — in 1986.
“A Sunday trade deadline, given the way we play games on Sunday, didn’t seem like it made the most sense, so we decided to move it the one day,” Manfred said.. “We don’t think it will be the end of modern civilization to do it one day later.
“I’m not sure that we’re looking to break any new ground on this one. We just thought that Sunday made no sense for us this year. Whether it’s the 31st or the 1st, I don’t see it as a huge issue.”
–with News wire services
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