Rays’ manager Joe Maddon has played a bunch of games in NL parks lately, and he’s rather enamored of the style of play. So enamored, in fact, that he’s getting rather cavalier about losing his DH via substituting him in on defense in the middle of a game:
“The thing that I’ve really played with a lot this year is there’s
really no reason why you can’t put your DH in the game in an American
League game. The fact that he can play defense, that’s one
thing we have going for us. Whoever DHs for us is able to play a
position and play it pretty well, actually.
“I’ve become more comfortable with that this year. It really expands your bench further, where you don’t have to minimize
your movements. You can leave this guy in the game. You can move the
pitcher’s spot around and you have plenty of options to choose from to
pinch-hit for that pitcher if he happens to show up later.”
I’m glad that Maddon has seen the light on National League play and everything, but let’s be clear about something: if you’re given a DH slot, you probably need to use it and probably should avoid forfeiting it if at all possible.
The only situation where I can see being casual with the DH is when you have a good-hitting catcher that you want to rest up. Typically, AL managers simply give the catcher the day off rather than DHing him because they want to be able to use him on defense if the backup gets hurt or something. If I have a Joe Mauer, however, I’d much rather play him at DH and risk an at bat or two by a pitcher in the event of a catcher injury rather than risk losing three or four Joe Mauer at bats.