UPDATE: Major League Baseball and the players union have reportedly agreed to a new labor deal for 2022 and beyond. Read more on the agreement here.
If and when the 2022 Major League Baseball season will start is still up in the air. But when it does, there will be a major shakeup in the way the game is played for half the teams in the league.
Speaking with reporters Thursday morning, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred announced the league will be adopting a universal designated hitter rule. The days of pitchers batting in professional baseball are likely over.
This is a change that has been in the works for a number of years. Baseball began thinking about synching the rules in the two leagues once interleague play became more common with the Houston Astros’ move to the American League in 2013. During the shortened 2020 season, the National League did use a DH, but went back to pitchers hitting in 2021. At the time, the reported goal was to make the change permanent, but the sides couldn’t get that done in time for the 2021 season. The DH was originally introduced in the American League in 1973.
As Major League Baseball and the MLBPA work through a lockout, the hope for the players is adding a universal DH will create more jobs as National League clubs look for another starting-caliber bat. The change should also help facilitate a more high-scoring game, increase the pace of play (less pitching changes) and limit pitchers getting injured.
Of course, the rule change doesn’t mean much if there aren’t baseball games being played. Asked about the status of the start of the season, Manfred told reporters on Wednesday “I’m an optimist, and I believe we will have an agreement in time to play our regular-season schedule.” He added “The status of spring training is no change right now.” Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to begin reporting on Feb. 15.
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Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.