Spring training is a time not just to get yourself ready for the season but also to get your arsenal ready. That means choosing and stocking the equipment you’ll need for the season.
During our weeks here, manufacturers of gloves and bats set up tables and show us their latest models and take our orders. It’s fun to see what might be new and different, but usually we stick with what has worked for us in the past.
Let’s talk about bats. How does a player choose a bat?
Part of the answer is the same as it was in Little League: How it feels in your hands. If you have big hands, you want a thicker handle. If you have smaller hands, like I do, you want a narrower handle. Then it’s about weight and length.
I have a bat from Pablo in my locker right now. It has a nice narrow handle, which feels good in my hands. But it’s too long for me – 35 inches. I have a long, sweeping swing, so I need a shorter bat to get around quickly enough on the pitch. Pablo has a short, compact swing, so he can get away with a longer bat.
(The reason I have Pablo’s bat in my locker is that I’m keeping it as memorabilia. That kid is going to be a superstar. So I want him to sign it and I’ll keep it at home. See? We’re not much different from you when it comes to collecting . . .)
Over the years, I have narrowed my arsenal of bats to three models: Two are from Louisville Slugger – the I13 and the T141, and one is from Sam Bat, the AS12. These are the three that are always in my locker. The I13 is my favorite. It feels the most balanced and streamlined to me.
My bats are 33.5 inches long and 34 ounces, though I also order some 32-ounce bats, too. Sometimes if I wake up and I’m kind of tight or tired, or if the pitcher is throwing 100 mph, I might want a lighter bat.
All of my bats are maple, which is a bit harder than ash. The ball goes farther, or at least it feels that way. It doesn’t mean the maple gets you a better hit, but when you hit it, you really feel like you hit it.
I know some people think the maple bats are more dangerous because there’s a perception that they break more often. But I think the ash breaks more. That’s been my own experience anyway