CHICAGO -- There’s at least one person happy baseball commissioner Rob Manfred clarified his stance on the designated hitter coming to the National League: Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon.
On Monday, Manfred told ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick that his recent comments on the subject were misinterpreted. In other words, the NL isn’t necessarily on the verge of -- or even close -- to getting the DH. Maddon couldn’t be more thrilled in keeping things the way they are.
“I like NL rules,” he said via text on Monday evening. “Always have. Never been worried about pitcher hitting or not.”
Remember, Maddon spent his entire baseball career in the AL until 2015, but one year was enough for him to embrace the NL style. He likes the different aspects of the pitcher batting -- and that includes Jon Lester, who is 4 for 98 at the plate in his career.
“It permits different components of strategy that will be eradicated,” Maddon said. “There may be an edge depending on how a team manages those differences.”
Maddon’s view is a minority one within his own club, and seemingly among Cubs fans as well. Many point to a farm system heavy in hitters, including DH-looking players in Kyle Schwarber and minor leaguer Dan Vogelbach. Maddon’s boss, Theo Epstein, is a proponent of the designated hitter too but echoed Manfred’s most recent comments.
“It's above our pay grade,” Epstein said at the recent Cubs Convention. “It's really an issue for the commissioner and the owners. We can't count on it because there are no indications that the DH is coming any time soon.”
For Maddon it’s about strategy; for others it’s about tradition. At this moment in time the designated hitter might help the Cubs, but there is no guarantee it won’t help other clubs even more. If the Cubs own the market in young hitters right now maybe they’re better off dominating the eight non-pitcher lineup spots instead of allowing other teams to potentially catch up. Besides, after waiting 107 years for a championship under one set of rules, it might be strange for the Cubs to switch gears now. At least that's what the manager thinks.
“For me, much more interesting in the dugout,” Maddon said.
It might be a moot point. Unless it becomes an issue in the next round of collective bargaining -- which begins very soon -- then the decision will be put off until at least the next set of contract negotiations.
“The most likely result on the designated hitter for the foreseeable future is the status quo," Manfred told ESPN.com. "I think the vast majority of clubs in the National League want to stay where they are.”