Baseball owners may bench the DH after this season.

Teams notified players Friday this may the final year of the designated hitter, prompting an angry response from the players association.Management negotiator Randy Levine emphasized owners have not made a final decision on the DH, which has been used by the American League since 1973. Levine said owners sent the notification Friday only because baseball's labor agreement requires one year's advance notice for a unilateral change to the playing rules.

The fate of the DH is tied to the future of interleague play. Under the current labor agreement, interleague play ends after this season, but owners want to extend it. The union is not under any obligation to play interleague games after this season.

Levine told the union last Aug. 29 that in exchange for the union's agreement to eliminate the DH, owners would expand active rosters from 25 to 26. The DH would be not be eliminated immediately under that plan. Instead, it would disappear several years after the agreement so veteran DHs could complete their careers and AL teams and pitchers could prepare for the future.