Fairly big news here out of Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
The Little League International Board of Directors Executive Committee, which operates all divisions of Little League Baseball, including the Little League World Series, has issued an immediate and complete moratorium on the use of composite bats.
Composite bats, which sell for upwards of $300, first popped onto the amateur baseball scene in the early 2000s. Made of not only aluminum, but also wrapped in woven graphite, they generate far more power and allow for faster bat speeds via better swing weight management.
Today, Little League decided that the technology was beginning to put youth at risk. When struck well, baseballs will fly off of composite bats at much higher rates of speed than regular old aluminum models.
“[This] decision of the Little League International Board of Directors Executive Committee is based on scientific research data from the University of Massachusetts (Lowell), which was contracted by Little League Baseball,” Stephen D. Keener, President and Chief Executive Officer of Little League Baseball and Softball, said in a press release. “There is a process through which manufacturers can submit individual models for a possible waiver if they wish to seek it. Going forward, we will let our leagues know which ones meet the standards for the Little League Baseball (Majors) 12-and-under divisions, if any.”
Little League parents all around the country are surely wondering why this decision wasn’t made before the holiday season, when big-money bats do big business both online and at sporting goods suppliers.
Other youth baseball leagues seem likely to follow suit.
With Game 1 of the Red Sox-Indians ALDS set to commence on Thursday, there’s no better starter for the job than Corey Kluber. The only question is whether or not the right-hander will be up to the task after sustaining a mild quadriceps strain earlier this week.
Indians’ manager Terry Francona appeared optimistic about Kluber’s chances of recovering in time for the Division Series, but admitted that he doesn’t have his rotation set in stone for the first couple of postseason games. Complicating matters is Monday’s potential make-up game between the Indians and the Tigers, which they’ll be forced to play if the outcome has bearing on playoff seeding.
Per MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian, Francona doesn’t have a starter for the make-up game, either, though he clarified that rehabbing right-hander Danny Salazar would not be eligible. Salazar is still working his way back from a forearm injury in hopes of joining the Indians for their postseason run, and needs to toss another simulated game before he can be expected to return to the mound. Kluber, meanwhile, will throw off the mound on Sunday.
With Kluber or Salazar limping out of the gate, the Indians will likely have to fall back on right-handers Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin. Bauer is slated for Saturday’s face-off against the Royals and confirmed his willingness to pitch on short rest through the playoffs. The 25-year-old also spoke to the Indians about his ability to pitch out of the bullpen, though it’s an option they appear unlikely to exercise. While Francona’s comments on Friday stressed the club’s patient approach toward their rotation, Bauer appeared revved and ready to go:
If it was up to me, […] I’d pitch and be ready to start or be available out of the ‘pen every game. In the playoffs, there’s really no reason to save anything. So, whenever I can get in there, whenever they want me to get in there, I’ll be ready.
Matt Holliday might not have a landing spot with the Cardinals in 2017, but that doesn’t mean he’s ready to hang his cleats up just yet. Prior to the Cardinals’ afternoon set against the Pirates on Saturday, the 36-year-old expressed his desire to further his career elsewhere, even if staying in St. Louis is not a possibility.
It’s been a down year for the outfielder, who batted .242/.318/.450 through 107 games before landing on the disabled list with a fractured right thumb. His 0.6 fWAR is the lowest mark of his career to date. Notwithstanding two injury-riddled seasons (he was sidelined through most of 2015 with a right quadriceps strain), he’s performed admirably for the Cardinals over the past eight years, putting up a .292/.379/.494 batting line, 156 home runs, and 26.8 fWAR with the club. With a return to full health, he might not be on the market for long.