After a year off from hitting, National League pitchers will step up to the plate again in 2021. But Cubs pitchers have another week to get their swings into shape for game action.
Cubs manager David Ross said he plans to start mixing in spring training games without a designated hitter after the Cubs’ off day next Tuesday.
“I'll talk to some other managers and just see where it lines up for them as well,” he said in a Zoom conference Tuesday.
Some managers, including the Padres’ Jayce Tingler, have expressed concern for the safety of pitchers who are out of practice at hitting.
“That’s very real,” Tingler told The Washington Post.
Ross, on the other hand, said it’s not his job to change the rules.
“These guys are professionals, and those are the rules, and this is what they're asked to do,” Ross said. “And a lot of them can't wait to get back in the box, to be honest with you. From our standpoint, I understand the concern, but we're going to try to do the best we can to get these guys prepared to be healthy and succeed.”
Along with last year’s health and safety protocols, Major League Baseball and its players union agreed to implement a universal DH for the season.
Then, in late January, Major League Baseball included the universal DH in a proposal to push back the 2021 season for a month. Despite the universal DH’s popularity among owners and players alike, the proposal linked the rule to expanded playoffs, a league-driven initiative. The players rejected the proposal.
So, pitchers are expected to yet again hit in National League ballparks. Cubs pitchers, like others around the league, have started bunting and taking swings as they work up to hitting in games.