A universal designated hitter and a runner on second base in extra innings are just some of the many rule changes MLB has introduced for the 2020 season.
In a statement, MLB says the rule changes are unique modifications for the 2020 season with player health and safety the top priority.
Among the changes, pitchers will not bat in either league this season, marking the first time in National League history there will be a DH.
Additionally, once a game goes to extra innings, each team will begin its half of the inning with a runner on second base. That runner will be the player whose spot in the batting order immediately precedes the inning’s lead-off hitter. If that runner scores, it will be considered an unearned run for the pitcher.
MLB has scrapped plans to ban position players from pitching unless their team trails by six runs or is playing in extra innings. However, it will be keeping a rule originally scheduled to debut in 2020 that will require relief pitchers to face at least three batters before being replaced.
Among the other rule changes being introduced:
• Spitting is prohibited but chewing gum is allowed.
• Lineup cards will not be exchanged at home plate and will instead be uploaded digitally.
• Pitchers may carry a small, wet rag in their pocket to wet their fingers without licking them.
• The 60-game schedule will feature 40 divisional games and 20 interleague games against the geographic division in the opposite league (i.e. AL East will play the NL East).
• The injured list will be either 10 games or 45 (down from 60). Additionally, a COVID-19 Related Injured List will be introduced. Players who test positive for COVID-19, have symptoms or have been exposed to someone else who has tested positive will be put on this list and instructed to self-isolate.
• The trade deadline will be Aug. 31 and playoff rosters must be finalized by Sept. 15.
The MLB season is scheduled to begin either July 23 or 24 after the first four months of the season were lost to due to the pandemic. Players are required to report to their home cities on July 1 for mandatory testing ahead of a modified training camp, which will begin July 3. Teams are permitted to schedule up to three exhibition games before the season resumes.
The Toronto Blue Jays, as MLB’s only-non U.S. based team, are negotiating will all three levels of government to allow training and games to be held at the Rogers Centre in Toronto. On Monday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the province has approved a majority of the team’s plan, but the federal government must rule on how quarantine rules will impact members of the team coming into Canada from other countries before any more action can be taken.