Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred stated Friday night he doesn’t foresee changing the way the designated hitter is handled during the World Series as long as the American and National Leagues operate under different rules during the regular season. 

Jayson Stark of passed along comments about the hot-button issue from the second-year commissioner, who doesn’t believe it would be fair to completely change the standards one of the teams has played under all season.

“I think the problem is picking what that one set of rules is,” Manfred said. “The National League plays without a DH all year. Their team is built to play without a DH. It’s the opposite in the American League. And I think the competitive ramifications of picking a single set of rules would be significant.”

He added: “Both teams have to adjust. Each of them has to adjust at some point in the series. And given that we play the game two different ways during the year, that makes some sense to me.”

The Cleveland Indians were forced to use their usual DH, Carlos Santana, in left field Friday to ensure his bat would remain in the lineup. He picked up two walks in three plate appearances before getting replaced by Rajai Davis as part of a double switch.

Meanwhile, Chicago Cubs slugger Kyle Schwarber was only allowed to serve as a pinch hitter in Game 3 because he’s not medically cleared from a knee injury to play the outfield. He popped out to shortstop in his only at-bat after picking up three hits and two RBI as the DH in the first two games.

Friday’s contest, which Cleveland won 1-0 to take a 2-1 series lead, showcased the different strategies necessary in games without the DH.

T.J. Zuppe of CBS Cleveland noted Indians manager Terry Francona stated before Game 3 he doesn’t “necessarily agree” with how the DH rule is handled in the World Series.

“I just think you set your team up the way you set it up and then you get to the most important games and you’re doing something different,” he said. “It’s a disadvantage. It doesn’t mean you can’t win.”

Of course, while it’s not ideal for the Indians to utilize Santana in left field, it would also be problematic for most National League teams to use a DH for the entire series after not building their roster to fill that void for the regular season. Schwarber is a unique case.

That’s why it would be difficult for Manfred to set the World Series standard one way or the other. As long as the designated hitter remains exclusive to the American League, the fairest way to handle the Fall Classic is keeping the rules the same.


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