No DH in 2021; Braden Shipley signs minor deal

With about a week until pitchers and catchers report to spring training, Major League Baseball and the Players Association agreed on some rules for the upcoming season:

There will be seven-inning doubleheaders again. A runner will be placed on second base in extra innings to lower the potential of marathon games. And there won’t be a designated hitter in the National League nor expanded playoffs.

The Cincinnati Reds were a team that was well-equipped to use a designated hitter, but now manager David Bell will have the challenge of finding regular at-bats for outfielders Nick Castellanos, Jesse Winker, Shogo Akiyama, Nick Senzel and potentially Aristides Aquino. It could lead to an interesting season for Michael Lorenzen if he wins a spot in the starting rotation because he’ll be available to pinch-run and be a defensive replacement in the outfield more often.

Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Trevor Bauer (27) and relief pitcher Michael Lorenzen (21) listen to starting pitcher Sonny Gray (54) during spring practice, Friday, Feb. 21, 2020, at the baseball team's spring training facility in Goodyear, Ariz.

Some highlights from the MLB-MLBPA agreement on health and safety protocols for the upcoming year:

• Spring training games until March 13 may be shortened to five- or seven-inning games if agreed upon by both managers. Completions of innings won’t be required if a pitcher has thrown at least 20 pitches.

• Teams are permitted to invite up to 75 players and 75 staff members to spring training. Once in camp, which requires a five-day quarantine, they won’t be allowed to attend indoor gatherings with more than 10 people. That covers indoor restaurants, bars, fitness centers or entertainment venues like bowling alleys.

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