MESA, Ariz. -- Most pitchers don’t want to hit.
None of the managers want to see them hit.
And even most National League traditionalists have embraced the idea of never seeing them hit again.
Well, barring a dramatic about-face, the National League pitchers will be hitting once again.
Just two weeks remaining before opening day, two officials with direct knowledge told USA TODAY Sports there are no ongoing negotiations between Major League Baseball and the players union about implementing a universal DH this year.
And no talks are scheduled.
There also appears to be no chance of an expanded postseason this year with several officials saying it’s a dead issue.
The playoff format will revert to a 10-team playoff field with three division winners and two wild-card winners in each league instead of having 16 teams like a year ago. MLB wanted a 14-team format with the wild-card teams playing a best-of-three format instead of having a sudden-death, wild-card game. They offered the expanded playoff format in exchange for a universal DH, which was soundly rejected by the union.
So, for one last time with a universal DH expected to be a permanent fixture in the new collective bargaining agreement with the current agreement expiring on Dec. 1, 2021, we will have pitchers hitting.
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“It’s weird to see them up there knowing it’s probably going to go away here in the next seven months,’’ Chicago Cubs manager David Ross said. “It’s just hard to wrap your brain around. But that’s the rules we’re playing with. There's definitely things over my tenure in the game that it’s not always agreed with, but you just kind of move along.’’
Ross, who spent 13 of his 16 years playing in the National League, enjoyed the NL rules as a player, but changed his mind when he became manager.
“I was always an advocate for not changing,’’ Ross said, “and then you see last year and being a fan for a minute, you realize you’d much rather have a real bat in there.’’
It was ugly the last time they batted as a group, with pitchers hitting .128 with a .159 on-base percentage and .163 slugging percentage.
Now, it could be even worse.
“I think there’s going to be a drop-off in performance in the batter’s box,’’ Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “I think the success rate for pitchers bunting will be a tick down. Also, the pitchers nowadays just keep getting better, their stuff keeps getting better, so that makes it even more difficult.’’
Considering these pitchers haven’t lifted a bat or even run the bases since 2019, pardon their lack of enthusiasm for getting into the batter’s box now.
“I wish they had some kind of rule,’’ San Diego Padres veteran Yu Darvish said, “that pitchers that are over 33 have the right to decide whether they want to hit or whether they want to use the DH.’’
Darvish happens to be 34, and would prefer never to hold another bat again.
"I'm sure there's some exciting parts that I'm not thinking about right now that bring in the National League," said Ross.
Well, yes, if you consider watching your ace pitcher, Kyle Hendricks, collide at first with Jake Cronenworth of the San Diego Padres exciting.
Hendricks, who hit a sharp single to right field on Wednesday night, hustled down the line to make sure he didn’t get thrown out, and tripped over Cronenworth’s leg as he crossed the bag.
“I think I threw up in my mask there for a second,’’ Ross said. “I immediately was all panicked. Please, get up! All kind of thoughts were going through my head. My heart skipped a beat there for a second.
“Thank goodness he was all right.’’
Well, stay tuned for a whole lot more chaos on the bases this season, providing pitchers will even make it to first.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: MLB unlikely to keep universal designated hitter in 2021