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.
For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League East
Boston may have the most talent and, in Mookie Betts, the best player. The Yankees have the best farm system. Baltimore has all the dingers and the best closer. Toronto may have the best collection of heels, at least in the view of fans of the other AL East teams. The Rays have the best . . . hmm. I’ll get back to you on that.
Anyway, here are our previews for the American League East:
Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays
Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.
On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.