James Falzon was sitting along the third base line at a Mets-Braves game in 2007 when Luis Castillo’s bat shattered, sending the barrel flying towards his face and resulting in some pretty massive injuries. Falzon is now suing the Mets, Castillo, former Met Ramon Castro — who owned the bat — Major League Baseball and Rawlings, the bat’s manufacturer.
The reason: it was a maple bat, and baseball already knew by 2007 that maple bats had a propensity to shatter like that.
This is not the first time someone has been seriously hurt by a shattering maple bat. Pirates’ coach Don Long was victimized by a bat shard a few years ago. So was Dodgers fan Susan Long. They aren’t the only ones and they certainly won’t be the last.
I don’t know whether the risks posed by maple bats are enough to convince a jury that injuries they cause are actionable at law. But I do know this much: baseball has long acknowledged the dangers of maple bats and multiple studies have shown that they provide no tangible benefit to hitters over their less-prone-to-shatter ash counterparts. Despite this, Major League Baseball and the players’ association have done nothing about it.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.
According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.
Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.