Mets righthander Jacob deGrom, who bats lefthanded, recently injured his right elbow while hitting.
Manager Mickey Callaway’s remedy is for deGrom, who is on the 10-day disabled list with a hyperextended elbow, not to swing the next time he comes to the plate.
That would really add fodder to the long-held thought that pitchers are automatic outs.
“I haven’t been hitting the ball very well anyway,’’ deGrom said Sunday.
DeGrom has two hits in 14 at-bats for a .143 average. In five seasons with the Mets, he is hitting .190 with one home run.
“But seriously, I’d much rather be out there pitching,’’ deGrom added. “If I can’t swing, then, whatever. I’d much rather be able to go out there, compete and keep us in a ballgame.”
Many hitting instructors say the bottom hand is more dominant in swinging a bat.
“I think the most important hand in hitting is the bottom hand,’’ former MLB hitting coach Walt Hriniak said Monday from North Andover, Massachusetts. Hriniak, 74, coached Hall of Famers from Carl Yastrzemski to Frank Thomas.
“Not everyone agrees with that, but that’s what I believe,” Hriniak said. “So when a guy is righthanded, I think he has an advantage [by batting lefthanded]. When he’s a lefthanded hitter, his bottom hand would be his right hand. In the National League [where there’s no designated hitter], they got to go to the plate. They got to get a hit, they’ve got to bunt.’’
Callaway, who came from the DH-friendly American League, may have rekindled the dormant DH debate when he said, “If it were up to me, the [pitchers] would never take BP and never swing in the game.’’
Callaway, who pitched five years in the AL, had two hits in three career at-bats.
Max Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young Award winner, made a strong statement in 2015 when he injured his thumb while hitting in a game for the Nationals. He had spent the previous five years with the Tigers in the American League before signing a seven-year, $210-million deal with Washington.
“If you look at it from the macro side, who’d people rather see hit: Big Papi or me?” Scherzer was quoted by CBS Sports. “Who would people rather see, a real hitter hitting home runs or a pitcher swinging a wet newspaper? Both leagues need to be on the same set of rules.”
Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner, one of the best-hitting pitchers in the majors, took great umbrage at Scherzer’s comments at the time, reportedly saying, “He knew the rules. Whatever much he signed for — what did he get, again? — he didn’t have a problem signing his name. He didn’t have a problem with hitting then.”
Scherzer then walked back his comments, saying they were jocular in nature and were taken out of context.
In 2015, Cardinals righthander Adam Wainwright tore his Achilles while running out of the batter’s box and was forced to miss most of the season. In 2009, Randy Johnson tore his rotator cuff while swinging.
While the subject of Major League Baseball adopting a universal DH has been discussed in the past, there is no current dialogue, sources said Monday.
Could deGrom protect himself from reinjuring his right elbow by batting righthanded? The Mets years ago had righthander Dwight Gooden bat from the right side to protect his arm. He was a good hitter with eight career home runs. Righthander Tom Seaver had 12 homers batting righthanded.
“I don’t know that it would be beneficial to Jacob to put him in a spot where he has to sit in there with a 95 mile-per-hour fastball thrown at him and he’s never stood in there and tracked that,’’ Callaway said. “I don’t know that would be the answer. But we’re open to everything all the time. He doesn’t hit righthanded, never has. He’d just be protecting his arm.’’
DeGrom didn’t think it would help much.
“It may not hurt on the swing, but my thing is, you’re so used to getting out of the way this way, balls coming at you, what if you accidentally turn the wrong way? You wouldn’t be comfortable hopping in there against a 95 miles-per-hour fastball from the other side. It would have to be something you worked on. It would probably be something, if I wanted to do it, I’d have to work on in the offseason.’’