Should AL Pitchers Be Required to Hit in NL Parks During Interleague Play?

Should AL Pitchers Be Required to Hit in NL Parks During Interleague Play? Josh Beckett will miss a turn in Boston's rotation after tweaking his back taking cuts in the cage to prepare for interleague play, so it might be hard for those in Red Sox Nation to favor pitchers batting in National League parks.

There are many positive aspects to interleague play. For one, it's fun to head to the park to see teams that you rarely get to see. When the Dodgers visit Fenway Park later this year, it's bound to be something every Red Sox fan in the house will enjoy.

But there are a lot of things about interleague play that are frustrating – and dangerous, too. It seems like every season, at least one American League pitcher goes down after injuring himself in some kind of batting-related debacle. And now that Beckett is missing time he wouldn't have otherwise missed if not for the upcoming interleague schedule, it makes you wonder.

Is interleague play really worth it?

Beckett could very well be the factor that means postseason or no postseason for Boston. As the anchor of a talented pitching staff — as someone who has shown he's capable of winning 20 games in a season — his health is imperative to the success of the Red Sox. Why compromise that health just because he's playing in a National League ballpark? Is that really necessary?

Jerry Remy doesn't think so.

"You always get concerned when you have a guy like Beckett go down — especially when he's doing something like taking batting practice," Remy said on Tuesday's edition of Red Sox GameDay Live. "It goes back to that interleague play thing, which I never liked. That's how guys get hurt, and Beckett got hurt. Hopefully, it's not too serious."

Consider the case of New York's Chien-Ming Wang in the 2008 season. During a June interleague game against Houston, Wang came up to bat with one out and runners on first and second in the top of the sixth. He bunted his way on, eventually coming around to score on a Derek Jeter single with two outs. He scored the run, but on the way, he injured his foot — and did not pitch again for the rest of the season. A partially torn tendon in a sprained right foot, all for the sake of taking an at-bat during an interleague game.

Because it's not something pitchers typically do, hitting and everything that comes along with it — running the bases, sliding — could easily cause injury.

So what is the point?

Interleague play can produce interesting matchups, but when teams are losing important players because of injuries that could be avoided — injuries that come as a result of stepping in the batter's box when it isn't customary — you have to question if something needs to be done

Should AL pitchers stop hitting in NL ballparks for the sake of their health? Or should the tradition continue with the risk it entails?

Share your thoughts below. The best comments will be read on NESN's Red Sox GameDay Live or Red Sox Final.

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