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07/01/08 7:27 PM ET
Dunn switches to ash bats
Reds outfielder frustrated by unreliable maple lumber
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- Adam Dunn has had it with his maple bats, and sentenced them to a lifetime of inactivity. "I'm done," the Reds left fielder said on Tuesday. "I'm tired of them breaking all the time." Bats made from maple wood have been a controversial topic in Major League Baseball this season. When maple bats break, they often shatter and send jagged pieces of wood in multiple directions that put people in danger. There has been a noticeable increase in bat explosions this season. Broken maple bats have severely injured an umpire, a coach and at least one fan in 2008. The MLB and the Players' Association are currently evaluating the safety implications of maple bats before considering a course of action. Dunn's reason behind the switch is mostly about product performance, but safety also figured into the equation. "Maple is good, but whenever you have a hairline [break] and can't even see it and hit the ball good, and you know you hit it good, your bat explodes," Dunn said. "And it's a soft liner to second base and the pitcher is ducking. ... I don't want one of my bats sticking somebody in the head." A lot of players made the switch to maple in recent years because they were considered more durable than ash, which chip and crack easier. Dunn and Ken Griffey Jr. both switched to maple bats in 2005. "This year, it seems a whole lot different," Dunn said. Griffey had been using an ash bat in batting practice lately and was using an ash bat in Monday night's game, when he hit a walk-off two-run home run to beat the Pirates. "That was the first at-bat I used it," Griffey said. "Earlier, I went in the cage before the game and swung it 20-30 times said, 'All right, this works.'" Infielder Jeff Keppinger remains a user of maple bats and had no plans to use another product. "The only reason why I use maple is because ash bats flake," Keppinger said. "I'm the type of guy where once I get a bat, I use the same bat for BP and the game. Once it breaks, then I get a new one. That's the thing with ash -- if it starts to break, you have to get a new one when you really don't want to. That's why I use maple. I don't use it for any other reason. They make bats the same size and same weight." Dunn destroyed a maple bat during his final plate appearance of Friday's game at Cleveland. He popped up to the shortstop in the eighth inning, but thought it would be a better outcome at contact. "The one I hit on the screws was in Cleveland against C.C. [Sabathia]," Dunn recalled. "I hit it right on the barrel. If it's cracked on the inside -- when you hit it, it explodes." A bat representative visited Dunn in the Reds' clubhouse Tuesday. His new shipment of ash bats were expected to arrive on Wednesday or Thursday.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.