Government lab helps MLB battle broken-bat danger

By CHRIS JENKINS | June 13, 2011 | 4:00 PM EDT

This June 10, 2011 photo shows Dave Kretschmann, an engineer at the Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wis., showing broken bats used by major league baseball players. After examining thousands of broken bats and establishing new standards for equipment manufacturers, the number of incidents where bats shatter into multiple pieces has been reduced by approximately 50 percent. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Major League Baseball has been trying to reduce the number of broken bats and the injuries that can come with them.

The league has an expert partner, too: After all, who knows wood better than the U.S. Forest Service?

The partnership seems to be working: Since the broken-bat issue reached its peak in the middle of the 2008 season, Forest Service researcher Dave Kretschmann says he has tracked an approximately 50 percent reduction in dangerous multiple-piece fractures.

Kretschmann says the main issue is getting batmakers to make sure the grain of the wood remains as close to perfectly straight as possible during the manufacturing process.