Lucas Giolito rarely got to hit anyway.
As an American League pitcher, the opportunities to swing the bat were few and far between, limited to the luck of the draw that his turn in the rotation would come up during one of the handful of series the White Sox play in National League ballparks each year.
But with a 2020 season shortened by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic comes a new rule: The designated hitter is coming to the NL, meaning no more hitting pitchers, no matter the ballpark. That rule, it's speculated, is likely to stick.
In this writer's opinion, good riddance to the automatic outs, to pitchers strolling to the plate, flailing at a few pitches and returning to the dugout as unceremoniously as they arrived. The memorable moments we'll be robbed of - sure, no one's going to forget Mark Buehrle's homer in Milwaukee or Cubs pitchers hitting homers in back-to-back playoff games in 2016 - were memorable because they were oddities, not marvelous feats of baseball excellence.
But Giolito is not happy. He's upset that he's probably taken his last at-bat as a big leaguer.
"I'm very upset about that for very selfish reasons," he said with a smile Friday. "I had a bet with a buddy that I would hit a big league home run in my first three or four seasons, and it looks like I will lose that bet."
Giolito made four trips to the plate last season. He got one hit, a two-run single, on Sept. 1 in Atlanta.
Nice job, Lucas, but it was long past time for the whole "pitchers hitting" thing to go away.
Of course, that's not the only change coming to baseball in this most unusual of seasons.
Notably, there's a new look coming to extra innings, where each inning past the ninth will begin with a runner on second base. It's being used to prevent games from spinning on into five-hour marathons when players are supposed to be limiting their time in close contact with other and teams won't have the usual resources with which to patch up tired-out bullpens. While that's valuable in these unique circumstances, the rule was being tested in the minor leagues last season and was discussed as a measure to prevent elongated games before COVID-19 gripped the planet.
But many of the changes are specifically focused on preventing the spread of the coronavirus, and they will shake up the day-to-day lives of players. They'll have to socially distance on the field, in clubhouses and in dugouts. There will be players sitting in the stands, bans on high fives, hugs and Gatorade coolers, and of course: no spitting. Pitchers who constantly lick their fingers on the mound will instead be asked to wet their fingers with a damp rag.
If you haven't figured it out yet, it's going to take some getting used to.
"One thing I'm trying not to do in live bullpen (sessions) is lick my fingers and spit and those types of things," Giolito said. "It's very tough because it's like second nature if you're that kind of guy when you compete. There are definitely things you have to make adjustments for, but it's all for the greater good. So I'm going to have to start practicing for sure and read up on those rules."
Lucas Giolito's 'selfish reason' for being upset about the DH coming to the NL originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago