MLB, feds celebrate improvements toward shatter-proof bats

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A Forest Service research team examined why bats break and found that many previous bats used inconsistent qualities of wood. Those with a lower density can shatter in multiple pieces and pose a threat to fans and players.

"This innovative research by the U.S. Forest Service will make baseball games safer for players and fans across the nation," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a written statement on Friday.

The Forest Service team helped establish manufacturing changes that changed wood density, wood drying and bats’ geometric dimensions. Those alterations have made the bats more shatter-proof.

"The U.S. Forest Products Laboratory has once again demonstrated that we can improve uses for wood products across our nation in practical ways — making advancements that can improve quality of life and grow our economy,” Vilsack added.

Concern about broken bats reached a peak in 2008. During just three months that season, batters broke more than 2,200 bats at the plate.

That led the MLB to make a concerted effort to fight the problem, including reaching out to an agency usually known for protecting wild animals.

"Since 2008, the U.S. Forest Service has worked with Major League Baseball to help make America's pastime safer," Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said in a statement. "I'm proud that our collective 'wood grain trust' has made recommendations resulting in a significant drop in shattered bats, making the game safer for players as well as for fans."