Hale might bat D-backs pitchers 8th this year

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — After he experimented with it at times last season, Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale may be ready to bat his pitchers eighth full time this season.

"I’d like to hit all our pitchers eighth if we could," Hale said Monday at Salt River Fields, "if they show they can handle the bat and do some different things with the bat."

The primary benefit of doing so, in theory, is to get more players on base ahead of All-Stars A.J. Pollock and Paul Goldschmidt, who likely will hit second and third in the order.

"If we do it, we may do it; go for it," Hale said. "(Zack) Greinke really is a quality Major League hitter. I’m very comfortable hitting him eighth and I told the other guys, ‘Show me I can do it to you.’"

Hale utilized the strategy 16 times last season to mixed results. The D-backs went 9-7 in those games and averaged 4.31 runs per game. They averaged 4.46 runs per game the rest of the season (which included 10 games with a designated hitter).

Nick Ahmed hit ninth 11 times last season, Cliff Pennington four and Chris Owings once.

"There’s advantages (on) both sides of it. Analytically, there’s advantages to it," Hale said.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon hit his pitcher eighth in 150 games last season.

D-backs Chief Baseball Officer Tony La Russa hit his pitcher eighth often in 1998 during his managing days with the St. Louis Cardinals. La Russa’s team averaged five runs per game in the 76 with the pitcher hitting eighth that season, compared to 4.9 with a traditional lineup.

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