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High school baseball: Metal bats in danger

Two-year moratorium advanced for high school athletes

Posted: May 5, 2010 10:19 p.m.
Updated: May 6, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 
A California legislative committee advanced a bill Wednesday that would place a two-year moratorium on the use of metal bats in high school baseball, responding to safety concerns that were raised when a Marin County teenager was severely injured earlier this year.

The moratorium would allow time for the bodies that govern baseball at the high school and collegiate level to review the safety of aluminum and metal bats, which some say are more dangerous than their wooden counterparts.

The CIF-Southern Section office could not be reached for comment, but two local coaches said something should be done to make the game safer.

Kevin Miner, an assistant baseball coach and co-athletic director at Saugus High, said he was recently at a meeting for state athletic directors where some of the top administrators from the CIF were present. He said there was no mention of this bill being in the works. Nonetheless, he said he supported a change.

“Do I think something needs to be done? Yeah, I think something needs to be done,” he said. “I’m not sure if wood bats are the right way to go.”

A big concern is the cost of wood bats and the frequency at which they break. Also, there have been safety issues recently with splintering bats at the professional level.

West Ranch High head baseball coach Casey Burrill said he was told last week by an Easton sales representative that a bill was about to be introduced.

Easton is one of the nation’s leading aluminum bat makers.

West Ranch played a wood-bat tournament during spring break in honor of Gunnar Sandberg, a 16-year-old pitcher for Marin Catholic High School who was hit by a comebacker off an aluminum bat in March. He was in a coma for weeks.

Burrill said coaches from Marin Catholic contacted the other coaches involved in the spring tournament, in which Marin was also a participant, asking the schools to switch to wood for the tournament.

Burrill said he supported a switch in bats as long as everyone else was on board.

The California bill, introduced by Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, passed the Senate Education Committee on a 5-1 vote and now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

Sandberg is still recovering at home from the incident.

Locally, the most serious incident with aluminum bats occurred in June 2004 when Valencia High pitcher Gary Cox was struck by a line drive in the face.

Cox spent four days in the hospital and had surgery that placed four plates into his face.

He made a full recovery,

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