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Column

MLB is back

We will have a Major League Baseball season.

A 60 game sprint to the finish. And I am all in. It’s MLB baseball. That’s all I care about.

Sure, the players and owners silly back and forth over millions of dollars was ridiculous. And it’s likely not the last time we’ll deal with something like that in the next few years. But with everything going on around us right now, I sure could use a little distraction.

I’m a Cincinnati Reds fan. It would be par for the course if the Reds loaded up on free agent signings and then they didn’t have a season. That sounds about right.

But now, with the designated hitter being inserted into both leagues, the Reds could be at a big advantage.

Reds General Manager Dick Williams admitted last week that him and his team of front office guys built the roster with the hopes that the DH would be implemented in the National League at some point.

David Bell has plenty of options. Nick Castellanos was brought in to inject some firepower into the offense and he’s an average defender. Jesse Winker kills right-handed pitching and is not good against lefties. Phillip Ervin is the opposite. Then there’s guys like Joey Votto and Nick Senzel.

Votto and Senzel aren’t known as bad defenders but Votto could add years to his career if he’s not worrying about the field as much.

Senzel really doesn’t have a single position to focus on so he can be DH some of the time.

The outfield group is deep and loaded. So someone is going to have to DH part of the time.

Winker and Ervin make the most sense since neither is known for their glove and their hitting splits are so dramatic.

I would even consider using relief pitcher Michael Lorenzen as the DH some days. He is built for it and has a sweet natural swing.

There are way too many outfielders on this Reds’ roster and having the DH will help fix the issue of finding enough at-bats for guys who are good enough to be in the lineup regularly.

The Reds starting pitching was one of the best in baseball last year. And they added Wade Miley to help with depth. If the offense comes around, the Reds should be in playoff contention.

On the topic of the DH, I have been for this move for the NL for a while now. I get it. The strategy behind it is not as fun. And there are some who think neither league should have it. If that’s how they want to go, then I am fine with it. I just think the NL was at a big disadvantage without it.

With it, NL teams can now sign players late in their career who become less viable in the field but can still hit.

There’s a reason why guys like David Ortiz, Frank Thomas, Edgar Martinez and Harold Baines never signed with teams in the NL. Their careers went so much farther just being able to hit every day and not worry about the field.

Chicago Cubs fans can now expect Kyle Schwarber to be with the franchise forever if they want him. He is tailor made for the DH and I would guess will be in that spot for Chicago a lot this summer.

The other new wrinkle that will go in effect this season is a runner will start on second base to begin innings when the game goes to extra innings. This is to help limit games that could drift into the 15th and 16th innings. And will help speed up the game in general.

I am not a huge fan of this type of play when the postseason hits, but if it’s what we need to see to have a season then I can adjust.

I read something the other day that 60-game schedules are expected to be 40 games within your own division and 20 interleague games against cross-division foes.

For instance, the Reds would play 10 games each against the Cardinals, Cubs, Brewers and Pirates and four games each against the Royals, White Sox, Indians, Twins and Tigers.

That type of split won’t make things even across the board because some divisions are simply better than others. But if they do expanded playoffs, it won’t matter too much.

We will have MLB baseball games that count at the end of July. I like the sound of that.

Now, if only the Reds can avoid another 1-9 start, I will like it even more. Something tells me Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray and Trevor Bauer won’t let that happen.

Play ball. Finally.

Contact Troy Hyde at thyde@shawmedia.com

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