Major League Baseball makes an important rule change

June 26, 2019; San Francisco, California, USA; General view of a bat on the ground in the game between the San Francisco Giants and the Colorado Rockies in the eighth inning at Oracle Park. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

If and when the 2022 Major League Baseball season will begin is still up in the air. But when it does, there will be a major shake-up in the way the game is played for half the teams in the league.

Speaking to reporters Thursday morning, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred announced that the league would adopt a universal designated hitter rule. The days of pitchers in professional baseball are probably over.

This has been an ongoing change for several years. Baseball began thinking about synchronizing rules across the two leagues once interleague play became more common with the Houston Astros’ move to the American League in 2013. In the shortened 2020 season, the National League has used a DH, but reverted to hitting pitchers in 2021. At the time, the stated goal was to make the change permanent, but teams were unable to do so in time for the 2021 season. The DH was originally introduced to the American League in 1973.

As Major League Baseball and MLBPA go through a lockout, the hope for players is that adding a universal DH will create more jobs as National League clubs seek another caliber bat departure. The change should also help facilitate more marked play, increase pace of play (fewer pitching changes), and limit pitching injuries.

Of course, the rule change doesn’t mean much if there aren’t any baseball games going on. Asked about the status of the start of the season, Manfred told reporters on Wednesday “I’m an optimist, and I think we’ll have a deal in time to play our regular season schedule.” He added, “Spring training status has not changed at this time.” Pitchers and catchers must begin reporting Feb. 15.

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Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group or any subsidiary. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Are you looking for a guest for the podcast? Let it know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or by email at [email protected].

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