MLB and players’ association agree to keep automatic runners in extra innings for 2022

NEW YORK — Major League Baseball finalized the rule change Thursday to bring autorunners back into extra innings for a third consecutive season.

Despite an easing of pandemic restrictions, MLB and the players’ association have agreed to keep the controversial rule that starts each team with a runner at second base during overtime for the 2022 regular season.

The agreement regarding on-field rule changes also includes extending the active rosters from 26 players to 28 from opening day April 7 to May 1 this year, due to the delayed start of spring training. .

Another new rule benefits Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani. With the designated hitter adopted in both leagues, pitchers who start games in batting order can remain in the game as a DH after leaving the mound. A DH can also come into play to throw. This change will apply to several seasons.

“Expanding the designated hitter and giving two-way players greater flexibility to show off their skills will benefit the game for the foreseeable future,” union director of player services Kevin Slowey said in a statement. “The additional innings alignment and adjustments will also serve to protect the health and safety of players in what will be a unique 2022 season.”

The “zombie” runner modification has been applied to the 2020 and 2021 regular seasons as part of the adjustments due to COVID-19.

There were 78 more games in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, and the longest by innings were a pair of 13-inning games in Houston, won by the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 29 and by Oakland on August 7. season since 1901 has had at least one game of 15 or more innings.

There were 233 games in overtime last year, and the longest was the Dodgers’ 16-inning win over the San Diego Padres on Aug. 25.

The modification for 2020 and 2021 which shortened the doubleheaders to scheduled matches of seven innings was not continued for 2022.

Active rosters will be 28 from Opening Day through May 1, 26 from May 2 through August 31, and 28 for the remainder of the regular season. Last season the limit was 26 from opening day until August 31, then 28.

Rookie qualifications going forward will remain the same as in 2021, when September days were not ruled out towards the 45-day threshold for exhaustion of rookie status in future seasons.

Andrew B. Reiter