Designated Hitter Rule Inching Closer to Reality for National League

David Ortiz
The Associated Press

The designated hitter (DH) rule looks closer than ever to crossing over from baseball’s American League to the National League, reports say.

Sources report that Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred says support for enacting a DH rule in the National League gains momentum.

The report comes on the heels of Thursday’s MLB owners’ meeting in Coral Gables, Fla.

Supporters of the DH have been trying to get the NL to add the rule for years, thus far to no avail. But if current reports are true the DH just might be approved for interleague play as early as the 2017 season.

Some feel if the rule is allowed for interleague play, it might seem to be the first step toward easing the rule into the NL in the long run.

This isn’t the first time this year that speculation over an impending adoption of the rule was heard. Last week Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak also speculated that the DH has more NL supporters today than in the past.

Recently, Mozeliak, who is known as a detractor of the rule, admitted the DH is being talked about more among owners.

“I do feel like there were times I could look all of you in the face and say it’s a non-starter, it’s not being discussed at the owner level or GM,” Mozeliak said at the Cardinal’s 20th annual fanfest. “But over the past year it has. I’m not suggesting you’re going to see a change but I definitely think the momentum (has changed).”

Mozeliak doubted the rule could be implemented as early as the 2017 season, but supporters say the rule might prove popular at least among players.

As Mike Oz explains at Yahoo Sports:

The universal DH would also unify the rules at a time when interleague play is being featured more prominently. A third plus would be pitchers not hurting themselves when they’re out of their element at the plate. Adam Wainwright, for instance, tore his Achilles last season when he was running out a pop-up.

Indeed, this is how change often occurs. Years of back-room talk, negotiation, then proposals. It looks like we are closer than ever to the proposal stage.

Consolidation seems to be the trend, though. Going back through time, in 2000 the umpires went from league designated to a unitary roster where umps ended up working either league. The year before that both leagues were consolidated under the banner of MLB and the individual league presidents were eliminated. Lastly, only a few years before that, interleague play was ushered into effect. So, next up, maybe a universal DH rule is on the table.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at