Sunday, March 2, 2008

The DH in NL parks? Sure, it's spring

I overheard a Pirates fan who was writing down the lineups for Sunday’s Rays-Pirates game at McKechnie Field mutter about the presence of designated hitters in both lineups.

“Sacrilege,” the guy screamed as he filled out his lineup card.

Well, no, he didn’t scream that.

He just frowned at the notion of designated hitters invading a National League ballpark, even in the spring when the rules are relaxed a little. Witness: pitchers running in the outfield, more than 25 players in the dugout and games that are sometimes scheduled for 10 innings so both teams can use more pitchers.

The Pirates agreed to use the DH on Sunday when the American League Rays came to town because it’s the smart thing to do, especially this early in the spring.

Who cares if Pirate starter Tom Gorzelanny gets his swings?

It’s not like that is a huge part of his game. Besides, he was gone after one inning, so he never would have batted.

Using the DH gives Pirate manager John Russell a chance to give some at-bats to a position player. On Sunday, that was catcher Ronny Paulino.

The DH allowed Rays manager Joe Maddon the chance to get some ABs for Cliff Floyd, as well.

You always hear managers talk about how hard it is to get players at-bats during exhibition games. You never hear them talk about the importance of getting ABs for their pitchers.

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