Discussion

Mixed opinions about maple bats

Updated: May 12, 2008, 9:47 AM ET
Pirates hitting coach Don Long stood in the Pittsburgh dugout on April 15 and tracked a ball hit by Nate McLouth. What he did not know was that at that moment, the sheared-off barrel from McLouth's bat was tumbling toward his face.

The broken maple bat gashed Long's cheek, an injury that required 10 stitches, but the injury could have been much worse. It has re-ignited concern within Major League Baseball about the potential hazard posed by maple bats. When ash bats break, they tend to splinter into smaller pieces. But bats made with maple wood -- which began to increase in popularity among players in the '90s and now are used by an estimated 60 percent of major leaguers -- tend to shatter into large, tumbling chunks.

There is fear within the sport that a pitcher, or an infielder or an umpire -- or a child -- is going to be impaled and hurt far more seriously than Long was injured.

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