VIERA, Fla. -- For the first time this spring, an Astros pitcher was in the batting order after the Nationals opted to have pitchers hit on Saturday. Astros manager Bo Porter originally had Jonathan Singleton in the lineup at designated hitter, but wound up having pitcher Lucas Harrell bat ninth.
The Astros are in the American League this year and will employ the DH, but the Nats had the right to have the pitcher hit since the were at home. Actually, Nats manager Davey Johnson told Porter he could use the DH if he wanted.
"Like I told Davey, it actually gives us an opportunity to take a look at some guys in pinch-hit situations," Porter said. "It's always tough for the umpire when you have one team DHing and the other team is using the pitcher. I'm always one to say you play the game and both teams should be governed by the same rules."
Even though they will only hit during Interleague games in NL ballparks this year, Astros pitchers still got plenty of bunting practice this spring.
"It's very important," Porter said. "A pitcher's ability to move a guy 90 feet is extremely important as you look at his ability to be able to stay in the game."