Arizona's Kirk Gibson offered his hand to shake, and Cincinnati's Dusty Baker kept his to himself, MLB.com's Steve Gilbert wrote Monday. The managers had what was described as a "testy" meeting at home plate over whether to use the DH in the Diamondbacks-Reds' Cactus League game.
As the home team, the D-backs had the privilege of choosing. That's the rule for spring training, even in a game with two NL teams that don't usually use the DH during the regular season. Arizona wanted right-hander Brandon McCarthy, who has spent his entire career in the AL where pitchers don't usually hit, to get some batting experience during a game. Fair enough. The Reds wanted to use the DH so Shin-Soo Choo could get some plate appearances without having to play the outfield. He's nursing a sore quad. Sounds right.
Gibson wouldn't budge. The DH was not used. Choo didn't start as a precaution. Baker didn't shake hands.
Here's Gibson's take, via Gilbert:
"It was a good locker room talk. Read between the lines."
And Baker's, via Mark Sheldon of MLB.com:
“We didn’t have a very pleasant encounter at home plate,” Baker said. “That’s how it goes. It’s over.”
This is why the DH needs to be universal. No more arguments ever!
Conflicts like this happen every year during spring training, and several times, but we almost never see, or hear about, a manager so expressly expressing his displeasure. It's kind of amazing that we don't; I mean, Baker has every reason (if not every right) to be perturbed. Not at Gibson — refusing shaking his hand was childish of Baker (if what Gilbert described is true). Each manager had the best interests of his respective club in mind. Baker apparently thought he was getting disrespected. It's not Gibson's fault the rule is dumb. (Not the DH rule, which itself is fine.)
It's simply ... stupid that Major League Baseball doesn't let managers do whatever they want with the DH in spring training. If Gibson wants let his pitchers hit and if Baker wants his hitters to DH, they should be allowed to do it, no matter what the other does.
No one should care, in spring training, that one team is using a DH and the other isn't. The point of spring is to prepare for the regular season, not to compile victories. That kind of common sense should trump the so-called integrity of the respective Grapefruit or Cactus leagues — as if anyone really would defend it. Well, MLB apparently does.
Taking it a step further, the DH should be used (or not used) at will during spring training games. Let's say that McCarthy gets his at-bat or two in, then a new pitcher comes in for the D-backs and Gibson doesn't want him to hit. OK, put a DH in! It doesn't matter! It might make an even bigger mess of some scorecards, but no matter.
Whatever the managers need to help them prepare for the coming season, they should be accommodated. This rule should be changed. It shouldn't be hard. And managers should always shake the other's hand when offered.
Gibby and Dusty ... at Tanagra ... with arms wide.
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- Dusty Baker
- spring training
- Kirk Gibson