Ask Hal: Barnhart trade would rock clubhouse

Hall of Fame baseball writer Hal McCoy knows a thing or two about our nation’s pastime. Tap into that knowledge by sending an email to

Q: With 550 at bats for the season’s 26 weeks, a .235 hitter becomes a .300 hitter with just one more hit a week or is my math fuzzy? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: Your math isn’t fuzzy, just your thinking. A .235 hitter is hitting .235 because he can’t get that extra hit a week. Some are fortunate to get enough hits to reach .235. Subtract one hit a week from a guy batting .235 and you get Eugenio Suarez.

Q: As well as Tucker Barnhart is playing, because he can become a free agent after the season, wouldn’t it make sense to trade him now and get something for him because Tyler Stephenson is the future? — SCOTT, Miami, Fla.

A: It makes financial sense but would be a major disruption in the clubhouse. Barnhart is beloved and a leader. And if you trade him, you’d have to include Wade Miley with him because Miley and Barnhart mix together like peaches and cream, coffee and donuts or wine and cheese. But I agree on Stephenson.

Q: A batter can’t hit a low knees strike, so shouldn’t the strike zone be at the top of the knees to the armpits? — MIKE, Indianapolis.

A: Not true. There are many very good low-ball hitters, especially left handers, most of which like down-and-in pitches. I’ve seen Cincinnati’s Tyler Naquin hit home runs on pitches near his socks. What I do notice is that some umpires call strikes on pitches belong the accepted strike zone. The umpires are the ones who need to quit giving pitchers the low out-of-the-zone strikes. The pitchers already have enough advantages.

Q: Why is it that when a batter is hit by a pitch, he consciously refrains from rubbing where he was hit, the more natural reaction? — JON, Centerville.

A: Well, he can’t cry. There is no crying in baseball. It is a macho thing. The batter doesn’t want to let the pitcher know that his fastball so much as stung him. If you rub it or shake it, the pitcher has won. Only the next day when he shows up with a cast on his arm does he acknowledge that, well, maybe it did hurt. . .a little.

Q: Could MLB come up with another dumb rule and say a batter could not adjust his Velcro gloves once he leaves the on-deck circle? — ED, Kettering.

A: This is less dumb than some of the recent rule instigations. Players who rip open and re-close the Velcro, and that’s most of them, are doing it out of habit, a bad habit. I’ve checked. Velcro doesn’t loosen after you take ball one and ball two. Why not just ban batting gloves and go hand-naked the way Stan Musial, Ted Williams and Larry Doby did it.

Q: Shouldn’t those big elbow pads that batters are employing be outlawed because batters make no effort to get out of the way of inside pitches? — jOHN, Troy.

A: That would be like taking away batting helmets and banning catcher’s masks and chest protectors. It is safety first and elbows are vulnerable. Yes, it makes batters braver and some do make no attempt to bail out. The rules say a hitter must make an attempt to duck pitches and it is up to the umpire to enforce. If he thinks a batter made no move to avoid getting hit, he should not be awarded first base. When is the last time you saw that called? Me neither.

Q: MLB has Jackie Robinson Day and Lou Gehrig Day, so who else should have his number and name celebrated? — GREG, Beavercreek.

A: While I agree with Jackie Robinson Day and Lou Gehrig Day because of their historic importance, this could get out of hand. Shouldn’t Babe Ruth be honored? Now about Roberto Clemente? How about Henry Aaron? And if teams continue to retire numbers in mass, pretty soon some pitcher is going to be wearing number 112.

Q: If ‘The Meddler,’ Rob Manfred, wants more excitement and more scoring, why doesn’t he just make a rule that all innings with a runner on third base? — MELISSA, Mobile, Ala.

A: Shhhhush. Don’t give him any ideas, although he probably is considering it. If MLB did that, games would last five hours and the scores would be confused with NBA scores. You need my T-shirt that says, “Leave the Game Alone.”


Q: If a player is placed on the 10-day or 60-day disabled list, can he come off the list before 10 days or 60 days and is there a limit to how many players from thew 40-man roster can be placed on the list? — ALAN, Centerville.

A: There no longer is a disabled list. It is now an injured list. Semantics. A player placed on the IL must serve the full time, either 10 days or 60 days. But they can stay on the list for as long as it takes. Just ask Mike Moustakas and Michael Lorenzen. And there is no limit. Just ask the Reds about that one.

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