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Elephant Rumblings: Rule changes for 2022 announced

MLB news roundup

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MLB: World Series-Atlanta Braves at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Friday, Athletics Nation! I hope you ain’t afraid of no ghosts.

On Thursday, MLB and the MLBPA officially announced rule changes that will be in effect for the 2022 season. The changes include amendments to the universal DH rule, increased roster limits to prevent injuries during the compressed regular season, and an extension of the ghost runner rule to prevent overly long extra-inning games.

Beginning in 2022, National League lineups will have a designated hitter, which the American League adopted in 1973. The league and players also agreed upon what has been nicknamed The Ohtani Rule, which specifies that starting pitchers who bat for themselves are treated as two separate people, so they can be substituted on the mound or in the batting order but remain in the game in either capacity. Most commonly this would be expected to play out as a two-way player being pulled as pitcher but remaining in the game as DH.

Notably, only starters are permitted to play this dual role; one two-way player cannot be substituted for another mid-game. There really is only one prominent two-way player in the game today, but it seems that in devising this amendment to the DH rule, the league is indicating that they would like to see more Ohtanis in the future. Morgan Sword, MLB’s Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations said: “We are excited to see the universal designated hitter in action this season with amended rules that will promote the use of two-way players going forward.”

Active roster limits have also been expanded through April to help prevent injuries due to a shortened Spring Training and more compressed regular season. From Opening Day through May 1st, active rosters will increase from 26 to 28 players, or 29 during double headers. The usual limit of 13 pitchers on the Active Roster will be suspended during this period. Pitchers and two-way players will be eligible for placement on the 10-day Injured List until May 2nd, at which point they will only be eligible for the 15-day IL. Pitchers and two-way players who are outrighted or optioned between Opening Day (April 7) and May 1 must remain in that status for ten days, but any optional assignments made during this period will not count towards the usual limit of five.

Finally, the ghost runner will continue to haunt second base in extras in 2022. Sword stated that the league and players “have agreed to extend the extra-innings rule to the 2022 Championship Season,” which could imply that the rule is not necessarily intended to be permanent. A’s manager Mark Kotsay is happy to see it return.

Tell us how you feel about the rule changes in the comments! Will they really foster the development of more two-way phenoms, or is Ohtani truly a unicorn?

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