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MLB Rule Changes for 2022: Ohtani Rule, Expanded Rosters, and More

MLB and the MLBPA announced significant rule changes to help with the first month of the season after a shortened Spring Training due to the lockout.

MLB Lockout canceled spring training games MLBPA
Photo: Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

Only one week from Opening Day, MLB and the MLBPA officially announced rule changes for the 2022 season. A few noteworthy alterations stick out: the adjustment of “The Ohtani rule,” roster expansion, and the return of a runner on second base to start each extra inning.

The “Ohtani Rule”

Now that the universal DH is here to stay, the Official Baseball Rules have changed to offer flexibility for starting pitchers who bat for themselves.

For example, if Jacob deGrom takes the mound and the New York Mets choose to use him as a hitter on the day he pitches, he will be considered two separate people. If deGrom gets replaced as a pitcher during the game, they can continue to bat and vice versa for the designated hitter spot. If deGrom gets replaced as the DH, he can continue to pitch but can no longer hit.

Of course, deGrom is only an example because the rule could affect players beyond Shohei Ohtani, who is the most obvious reason for the change.

28-Man Roster, Doubleheaders, and Injured List

From Opening Day through May 1, MLB active rosters will expand from 26 to 28 players. The traditional extra player rule still applies as it has in the past for doubleheaders, resulting in 29-man rosters for doubleheaders within the early-season timeframe.

Through May 1, MLB has also removed the limitation of 13 pitchers on the active roster and the restriction of position players appearing as pitchers.

Notably, pitchers and two-way players are eligible for the 10-day injured list. Starting on May 2, those players will only qualify for the 15-day injured list.

Furthermore, pitchers or two-way players must remain on option or outright assignment for 10 days before the club can recall them. Also, players optioned before May 2 will not count against the five option limit per player.

Extra Innings

The runner on second base to begin each half-inning of extra innings has returned. At the start of each half-inning, the runner placed on second base will be the player in the lineup preceding whoever is due up to bat, unless the preceding player is a pitcher. If it’s a pitcher in the last spot, the player before them may start on second base.

Naturally, quite a few fans aren’t happy about this portion of the 2022 MLB rule changes. Still, MLB and the MLBPA have made a point to implement this rule over the last couple of seasons in an attempt to avoid injuries, overtaxing bullpens, and marathon-length ballgames.

That pretty much wraps up the notable rules changes. Nothing like a news dump and twist seven days out from Opening Day.


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