Ask Hal: Is the designated hitter here to stay in National League?

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Reds' Joey Votto on playing without fans

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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: If a pitcher applies hand sanitizer on the baseball would this be considered a foreign substance? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: They do make hand sanitizers in the U.S., so it isn’t a foreign substance. But he can apply all the sanitizer he wants in the dugout, he just won’t be able to take it to the mound. Gaylord Perry, though, would have figured out a way.

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Q: Will the designated hitter become permanent in the National League? — AMANDA, Dayton.

A: To my eternal dismay, yes, the DH (designated hoax) is here to stay in the NL. I hate it because it takes so much strategy away from the game, takes away too many decisions by the manager. They are making the game so easy to direct that Joe the Plumber could manage the Reds.

Q:Will the batboy no longer be able to pick up the bats and will this job even exist? —GREG, Beavercreek.

A: No bat retrievers. Believe it or not, the players will have to pick up the bats and toss them toward the dugouts. That adds new meaning to the term bat toss. And it is a shame the Reds’ good-luck batboy Teddy Kremer won’t be making any of his cameo appearances.

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Q: How will teams such as the Reds call up players since Louisville, their AAA affiliate, is shut down this season and does it default to the AA affiliate? — ALAN, New Albany, Ind.

A: There won’t be any minor league baseball, no Triple-A, Double-A or Single-A, which sadly wipes out the Dayton Dragons for 2020. So there will be no minor-league clubs. Each MLB team will have a taxi squad of about 10 players. They will start the season with a 30-man roster and a 10-player pool ready to be added to the roster when necessary. The taxi squad was invented by former Cleveland Browns coach Paul Brown, who kept extra players in reserve. The team’s owner, Arthur McBride, owned a taxi company and the extra players were put on his taxi payroll, although they didn’t drive cabs.

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Q: Does the shortened season increase or decrease the chances that the Reds would try to trade for Francisco Lindor by the deadline?— JUSTIN, Kettering.

A: Ah, the season hasn’t even begun and the Francisco Lindor rumors re-surface. The trade deadline this year is Aug. 31. It probably decreases the chance. The Cleveland Indians probably will hang on to him because they will be contenders. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. And I believe the Reds will be contenders without Lindor.

Q: Do you think Joey Votto will bounce back this year or has Father Time claimed too many of his skills? — GLENN, Siesta Key, Fla.

A: Father Time catches up with all of us and nearly has passed me by. Joey Votto is no different. But nobody works harder on their skills than Votto. He doesn’t have the power he once had, but his get-on-base ability is still there and I expect his batting average to be much better than last year, if he starts fast. We all know his history for slow starts. With a 60-game schedule he needs a fast getaway.


Credit: David Jablonski - Staff Writer

Credit: David Jablonski - Staff Writer

Q: Do you think baseball players will be kneeling during the National Anthem and how do you feel about it? TOM, Gratis.

A: Yes, there will be some (many) kneeling. I haven’t heard, but I just wonder that without fans will they even play the National Anthem. There certainly won’t be a Take Me Out to the Ball Game during the seventh inning, will there be? Me? I wouldn’t kneel, not because I don’t agree with why they do it, I just feel there are better ways.

Q: What are your thoughts on putting a runner on second base to start extra-inning games? RICHARD, San Diego.

A: Hate it, along with many other changes-for-the-bad baseball keeps instituting. There is drama in extra-inning games and tough decisions for managers to make. I have a t-shirt and I wear it often that says, “Leave The Game Alone.”

Q: What are the Reds plans for outfielder Mark Payton? — KEITH, Brookville.

A: Payton was a Rule 5 pick last December for $100,000 from the Oakland Athletics, so he must remain on the big league roster for 2020 or be offered back to the Oakland Athletics for $50,000. With a 30-man roster to start the season, Payton will be an extra outfielder and be given a chance to see what he can do. Payton was drafted four times before he finally signed out of the University of Texas, then was selected by the Reds in the Rule 5 draft. “I have to be close to a record for number of times drafted,” he said. “It’s the fifth different draft, the fifth different team to take me. This game is so crazy, because you never know where it’ll take you.” After showing no power in his early minor league seasons, the 5-foot-8 Payton hit 30 home runs in the minors last season, mostly with Triple-A Las Vegas.

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