Straighter grain means stronger bats

Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig connects. Major League Baseball has funded a study on how to make bats that break less frequently. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times / July 11, 2013)

What is the federal forestry agency doing to help Dodger slugger Yasiel Puig?

Well might you ask. It turns out that the Forest Products Laboratory, operated by the U.S. Forest Service, has been working with Major League Baseball Safety and Health Advisory Committee and the Major League Players Assn. to figure out how to reduce the frequency of bats breaking into dangerous projectiles.

The research began in 2008, when wood experts at the federal lab examined what caused the big league maple bats to shatter. That analysis revealed that the more straight the grain on the bat, the less likely the bat is to break.

Researchers also found that low-density maple bats were more likely to crack and shatter into pieces more often than ash bats or higher-density maple bats.

According to Major League Baseball, which funded the project, modified manufacturing techniques have reduced broken bats by half.

Now, if they could figure out a way to get Puig and his bat into the All Star Game....