PHOENIX – At initial glance, the thought of a universal designated hitter in the National League was somewhat of an anathema. This was a practice designated for the American League, perhaps in World Series play but solely reserved for interleague play.
To apply a layer of uniformity to the game, as well as generate offense, management and players agreed to institute the practice. The announcement was made just before the start of spring training this past March, and National league teams had difficulty adjusting rosters and designating personnel.
After more than half of the season with the DH, the consensus among the Arizona Diamondbacks is positive. Pitchers no longer hit, run the bases, and make additional physical demands.
“I’m a fan of the DH,” said Arizona manager Torey Lovullo before Friday’s game with Colorado in Chase Field. “It adds a little variety to the game and a variety I was not used. I was a bench coach for a while under those guidelines. Had a Hall of Fame DH (David Oritz) hitting there every night. That made it easy, but our situation is a little more revolving. I can give guys off and get them off their feet. That creates a little bit more offense and that was what major league baseball was after. Love the strategy of the pitcher hitting and adds a completely different dimension to managing a baseball game. This was done for a lot of exciting reasons and mostly from an offensive standpoint.”
Here in the initial season of the universal DH, Lovullo, as with most NL managers, struggle with several issues.
Initially, the timing.
The universal DH was not introduced to the NL until early March. By that time, teams settled on rosters and no player, among NL teams, was solely anointed as a DH. With the coming off-season and a full spring training in 2023, that should likely change. National League teams will begin to factor in some sort of designated hitter on a consistent basis. Regarding that point, Lovullo said he was not one to dramatically alter the landscape.
“As we began to prepare for the DH as an organization, we will have somebody emerge,” Lovullo added. “That’s my gut feel. (General manager Mike Hazen) and myself discussed this during the off-season. We were anticipating something like this was a possibility. We thought this would be more of a fluid situation where I could create some diversity. To say he has one, drop-dead DH in mind, we do not. If someone does emerge, we’ll know that rather quickly.”
On the diamond Friday night …
Arizona shortstop Geraldo Perdomo made sure the current funk for the Diamondbacks came to an abrupt holt. Coming into the opening contest of a seven-game home stand on Friday night, the Diamondbacks had dropped five of their previous six. Trailing 5-4 going into the bottom of the eighth, the outcome appeared as bleak as an ice cream cone combatting the scorching desert heat.
With one swing of the bat, Perdomo took care of business with a two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the eight and that powered Arizona to a 6-5 victory of the Colorado Rockies before 17,720 in Chase Field.
‘I faced (Colorado reliever Alex Colome) last year and basically hit the ball to the middle of the field,” Perdomo said after drilling the game-winner. “I tried to get something close to the plate, and he threw something about in the middle. I try to hit each pitch to the middle of the field and did my job well. My confidence is way high, and I try and do my best and just get on base.”
Down 5-4, Jake McCarthy singled with one out in the inning and newly acquired Emmanuel Rivera laced a double into the left field corner. That put runners on second and third with two away and set the stage for Perdomo’s game-winner.
An appreciation …
The Friday game against Colorado was the first without David Peralta at home since he joined the Diamondbacks on June 1, 2014. Peralta was a mainstay in the Chase Field gardens for nearly a decade and, just before the trade deadline, was dealt to the Tampa Bay Rays.
At 34-years-old, Peralta was in the last season of a contractual obligation to the Diamondbacks, and given his impending free agency, Arizona general manager Mike Hazen decided to simply say, “goodbye.”
Still, his career .282 batting average in nine seasons with Arizona, plus a 2019 Gold Glove, was clearly noticed by the opposition.
“(Peralta) has been a big part of their team for a long time,” said Colorado manager Bud Black before the series opener Friday night in Chase Field. “He was right there in the middle of the order. I’m assuming he was one of the leaders on their team and one well respected by the guys. They now have young players making headway, so it will be a different look for us without David.”