The DH dilemma

NEW YORK - Mark Reynolds served as the Orioles’ designated hitter last night and was hitless in three at-bats in a 2-1 loss to the Yankees.

In 23 games this season, the Orioles’ designated hitters are a combined 18-for-80 (.225) with three doubles, one home run and three RBIs.

Reynolds has done it, and he’s batting .143 with no homers and three RBIs this season.

Nick Johnson has done it, and he’s 0-for-26 this season.

Chris Davis has done it, and he’s batting .310 with six doubles, four home runs and 12 RBIs this season. But only five of those at-bats have come as the DH, and he’s provided the lone home run.

Manager Buck Showalter and executive vice president Dan Duquette preferred to keep the DH spot flexible, with players rotating in and out, rather than plug in a plodding one-dimensional veteran such as Vladimir Guerrero.

It’s easy to understand the logic, but we can now debate the wisdom of it as we enter the season’s second month.

Guerrero is still on the free agent market. He recently worked out for the Arizona Diamondbacks, a curious fit considering there’s no DH in the National League and Guerrero can barely move unless he hails a cab.

He had lots of company until recently, when Johnny Damon signed with the Indians and Hideki Matsui signed with the Rays.

Magglio Ordonez is still out there. His phone isn’t ringing off the hook.

Is Showalter beginning to second-guess his rotating philosophy?

“Second-guess it? I never first-guessed it,” he said.

“What’s funny about it is, if you look at how many true DHs there are in the game anymore ... (David) Ortiz and who? I haven’t really been able to put my arms around why that’s happening in the game, but it’s happening.

“If you look at the people out there now who didn’t get a job. I’m not real sure why the game’s evolved that way, but from our standpoint, it keeps our team as a whole healthier and versatile and balanced. I hope. We’ll see. I think we’ll figure it out a little bit more as we go in, but teams just aren’t going there anymore.

“The DH guys who have a track record at some stage in their lives, they also cost a lot more. It may come back to that. You never know what the commitment is. And there are some other reasons, some other things that people are suspicious of, that they want to be careful about, commitments.”

Imagine how bad the DH numbers would be in Baltimore if Ronny Paulino hadn’t gone 4-for-4 in his Orioles debut.

I’m asking you, the fans, whether you’re comfortable with this flexible system, or would you be OK clogging the DH spot if you could get more production from one player?

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