Daily Herald
Baseball keeping close watch on all data for broken bats
By Bruce Miles | Daily Herald Columnist
Published: 9/20/2010 3:57 PM

Cubs general manager Jim Hendry was not in Florida last weekend. He was spending some quality time with his son.

But he did see on TV the frightening image of one of his players, Tyler Colvin, being struck and impaled in the chest by a flying piece of Welington Castillo's broken bat Sunday.

Hendry has long been a vocal critic of aluminum bats, but he said Monday he wasn't qualified to speak on the controversy surrounding maple bats, such as the one that hit Colvin.

That didn't stop Hendry from being as horrified as anybody else after finding out how serious Colvin's injury could have been. Colvin will remain in a Miami hospital for a few more days for observation after suffering a puncture wound to the upper left chest.

"When you first see it live, you don't think it was going to be as bad as it was," Hendry said. "He didn't go down. If I had seen it (in-person), I would have thought, 'Oh, (shoot),' but I don't know if I would have thought he was hurt that badly."

Maple bats have become an issue as their use has increased over the past decade. They're harder than the traditional ash bats, and with players preferring thin handles, they tend to snap when broken instead of cracking as ash bats often do.

Major League Baseball and the players association have studied the safety issues concerning maple bats, and the topic is sure to come up again during the next round of collective-bargaining talks for a new Basic Agreement.

"We're on it, and we've been on it for a couple of years," said Patrick Courtney, MLB's vice president of public relations. "There have been modifications made in the slope of the grain and in the quality of the wood. We still get bats back that break so we can determine why they broke. The good news is we're down 50 percent (in breakage). The bad news is incidents like this happen."

Hendry said Colvin "won't be able to do anything for a few weeks, but it doesn't look like a big, big problem."

Colvin hit his way onto the team in spring training and wound up with a hitting line of .254/.316/.500 for a solid OPS of .816. He had 20 homers, 56 RBI, 30 walks and 100 strikeouts. There's room for improvement in the walks and strikeouts, but if former manager Lou Piniella hadn't forgotten about Colvin in May, he might have hit 25 homers.

Colvin did thank Cubs fans in a statement.

"I want to thank Cubs fans for their support all season, especially right now, and let everyone know that I'm doing OK," he said. "I also want to thank everyone who has helped take care of me here in Miami - the Cubs and Marlins training and medical staffs, the EMTs at the ballpark and everyone here at the hospital."

Soto has surgery: Catcher Geovany Soto had what the Cubs termed successful arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder Monday to alleviate pain around his AC joint. Team doctor Stephen Gryzlo performed the surgery, and Soto went home. The Cubs say he should be at full strength by the time spring training starts.

Kudos for Quade: Jim Hendry is playing his managerial search close to the vest, but he did praise Mike Quade, who is 17-7 since taking over for Lou Piniella last month.

"He's done an outstanding job," Hendry said. "He's done a really good job with the veteran players and the kids. We certainly had our share of injuries. We're not quite playing at full strength, even when he took it over. He's doing a real good job keeping everything positive.

"He's been a baseball man all his life and a darn good one. He did an outstanding job for us as far back as when he managed the Iowa club, and that's why we brought him to the big leagues when Lou got here. He's got a real good way about him, and the players have responded well to him."

Quade will attempt to keep the job beyond last year. Hendry has talked with former Indians manager Eric Wedge. Cubs Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg, who managed the Cubs' Class AAA Iowa farm club, has had one talk with Hendry, and he'll have another.

Others expected to interview are former big-league manager Bob Melvin and Cubs TV analyst Bob Brenly. Yankees manager Joe Girardi is a wild card at this point, depending on whether he re-signs in the Bronx.

We've said here before that the big-name outside candidate has worked only to some degree in the past. It would send a positive message up and down and throughout the Cubs organization if Hendry were to stay in house.