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Ghost Runner for additional innings returning for MLB games in 2022; ‘Shohei Ohtani rule’ added

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Major League Baseball has decided to bring back the controversial extra-inning rule for the 2022 season after negotiations with the MLB Players Association over health and safety protocols, a senior MLB executive told USA TODAY Sports.

The official spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because an official announcement is not expected until all 30 owners vote next week. Owners will also vote to approve expanding rosters by two players to 28 for the month of April due to the shorter spring.

MLB will once again have a “ghost runner” at second base beginning in the 10th inning of all regular-season extra-inning games, something the players’ union badly wanted. The “ghost runner” also had the support of managers and GMs. The rule was initially implemented in 2020 as part of the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

“I thought it was working out really well,” Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “I know it’s not traditional baseball, but when you talk about saving guns and saving guys for the next day, I think it’s good.

“I’ve enjoyed Ghost Runner for the last two years, I really have. He added a certain degree of excitement to the game. He sped up the game. It allowed us to keep some launch and not have to send guys for the next day because we are exhausted.

“And it wasn’t weighted one way or the other, the odds are equal that both teams can come in, run and win a baseball game.”

Shohei Ohtani became the first player in MLB history to start an inning at second base under MLB’s new extra inning rules in this game on July 24, 2020.

MLB also included a new “Shohei Ohtani Rule” in its new protocols with the universal DH, according to the New York Post. If the starting pitcher is also batting in the lineup, as Ohtani is, he can remain in the game as the designated hitter even if he is removed from the game as the starting pitcher. Angels manager Joe Maddon thought it was unfair that they were the only baseball team to play by the old National League rules.

MLB is also returning to traditional nine-inning doubleheaders as commissioner Rob Manfred promised last summer, believing the shortened games cheated fans who were paying full price for tickets.

“I don’t know, I’m sure we’ll have a different rule in three months, maybe next year after that,” said D-backs ace Madison Bumgarner, who pitched a seven-inning no-hitter last season. . that was not officially recognized because it was a shortened game. “We’ll just fix it as we go. We’ll see what you like, the flavor of the week. …

“Maybe we’ll start playing with a flying ball or something.”

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Certainly, GMs and managers pushed to expand rosters due to the shorter spring, which lasted only three and a half weeks instead of the normal six-week period.

“I think it’s necessary,” Lovullo said. “We were talking about how far and how deep can we go with our number of pitches. I am never in favor of hitting or hurting someone. You need some extra bodies with the short spring training. I want to minimize the risk for everyone.”

MLB will have its biggest changes next season when it plans to implement a shot clock, along with at-bat restrictions that require all four infielders to be on the ground before throwing the pitch, along with bases expanded from 15 inches to 18 inches. .

“I’m in favor of some rule that shortens games,” Milwaukee Brewers manager Craig Counsell said last week. “Any rules, any ideas that help us improve the pace of games and/or shorten games, we should be exploring. …

“I don’t think we have to be right about all of this. I think that’s one of the ways baseball has to come out. We may be wrong, but we are trying to do better. We have to try things to make it better. Sometimes you have to fail to do things better. We can be wrong because it will get us closer to a better answer. …

“We are not going to break the game. We are going to do better and we have to start on that path.”

Follow Bob Nightengale on Twitter: @Bnightengale

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: MLB 2022 rule changes: Ghost runner returns, Shohei Ohtani rule added

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