Multiple Conference Commissioners in Division II baseball are exploring the idea of introducing wood bats universally to their level of play in 2012. It seems that this season we have seen multiple incidents involving balls hit at the pitcher that have inflicted harm. Tommy Toledo of Florida was struck in the face with a line drive that required surgery, and he is yet to return. Corey Williams of Vanderbilt was struck by a line drive on this now infamous play against the Gators, and the result was a broken kneecap and surgery. Also, Nick Capito of UCSB was struck in the face a few weeks back, but returned for his next scheduled start.
I wouldn’t think Division I baseball would move towards wood bats, but a bill has been advanced to the Senate in California to ban metal bats from high school play for two years, and that could have a ripple effect to the college level. This move was a reactionary result of Marin Catholic’s Gunnar Sandberg’s well documented head injury, which left him in a come clinging for his life at one point. I’d expect a similar moratorium to take place in New York, as a 13 year-old student named Brady Lee Frazier died over the weekend, resulting from an injury sustained by a line drive. Metal bats are already banned in New York City, and it wouldn’t surprise me with this incident that metal bats may be banned state-wide eventually.
It will be interesting to see what, if any, reaction there is by Division I NCAA Baseball on this subject after these multiple injuries. Proponents of aluminum bats claim there is no scientific evidence proving wood bats are safer than aluminum bats, while wood bat advocates cite the multiple injuries as well as the fact that the Major Leagues use wood bats as well as the Cape Cod League. This debate is multi faceted, as the use of wood bats doesn’t immune pitchers from injury on comebackers. Erik Davis of Stanford (now in the Padres system) was seriously injured back in the 2007 Cape Cod League, and there have been multiple career altering injuries to MLB players like Kaz Ishii and Bryce Florie.
The one part of this debate I do know is true, is that it’s never going to go away.