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MLBPA chief Tony Clark: National League DH talks to increase in 2016

MLBPA executive director Tony Clark expects new discussions regarding the addition of a designated hitter in National League play.
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MLBPA executive director Tony Clark expects new discussions in 2016 regarding the addition of a designated hitter in National League play.

Clark spoke to the media Monday at Cardinals spring training, saying there have been discussions about a universal DH in each of the past two negotiations with Major League Baseball, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Derrick Goold. Clark said he thought the rule would likely come up as a topic in the next round of collective bargaining.

"Considering how the game has progressed I can see how it would move more to the forefront than it has in the past," Clark said.

"Would I be interested in having talks about the DH in the National League?," he told the Post-Dispatch​. "I’ll offer you this, interestingly enough, that topic has come up independent of us bringing it up. It has been a topic, as I’m sure you know, a topic of discussion going back the last two bargaining agreements. Nothing has changed at this point in time. But I am guessing come 2016 that conversation will come up again."

Clark "cautioned against" assuming that the Players' Union would be in favor of implementing the rule in the National League.

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The new designated hitter discussion is tied to baseball's interleague play format, which now sees AL and NL teams squaring off in September, during stretches especially vital to divisional races.

"That was a concern when we started to talk about evening out the divisions and how that would manifest itself over the course of interleague play," Clark said. "The idea that you would be in September with a possible division [title] on the line with one team who was not used to having a DH, or a team that was used to having a DH not having it, and how that could affect the overall outcome. As you might expect we are very concerned about the integrity of the game, and having scenarios or situations play out like that that could affect inevitably how a division ends, is not a place you want to find yourself."

The American League has used a designated hitter since 1973.

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