There are few things as heartbreaking as a baseball or softball bat that has had its life prematurely cut short either through cracking, breaking or some other tragedy.
In this article, we provide a list of the best ways you can ensure your bat lasts a long time by keeping it in tip-top condition.
The basics when it comes to taking care of your bat are more or less the same, although manufacturers may differ somewhat.
Before we begin, the first thing to remember is that unless stated otherwise, your bat is under warranty. Typically, the warranty period is 12 months from the date the bat is bought. Depending on the kind of bat you get, some manufacturers have modified the warranty period to something like 500 days or 2 years from the date of purchase.
In spite of what the warranty says, they cover more or less the same thing. Your warranty will cover issues such as breakage, denting, rattling on the inside, a loose knob and damage to the end cap.
Sample warranty from Easton
The Manufacturer’s Warranty does NOT cover bats that have been
- Abused, altered, or mistreated
- Used in a commercial batting cage
- Used in temperatures under 60°F (15°C)
- Purchased from non-authorized Easton dealers or individuals
- Purchased at auction, or on auction websites
- Bats that need grip replacements
Be very careful who you buy your bat from. To find out exactly what your manufacturer covers in their warranty, get in touch with them. You’ll never your manufacturer will honor the warranty until you ask them. Also, remember to occasionally check your bat for damage and notify you vendor in good time.
Alloy or composite bats are susceptible to damage when used in temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Balls get denser in colder temperatures, and in wet climates, the balls get waterlogged.
These balls can dent your alloy bat or crack your composite bat or flat out break it. Understandably, sometimes playing in cold weather is inevitable. If you can avoid it, however, try to limit how often you use your bat in such conditions. Alternatively, use a wood bat or a cheaper bat instead of your expensive youth bat or BBCOR bat.
In addition, always store your bat in a cool dry place when not in use e.g in a closet. Never in a garage or any other area that can get extremely hot or cold.
Team use will significantly shorten the lifespan of your bat. To be safe, limit your baseball bat to individual use only.
Batting cages & cage balls
Cage balls will void your warranty. This is because they aren’t exactly regulation balls. Better yet, do not hit anything other than regulation balls with your performance bat. These balls are harder/more compressed than regulation balls and can damage your bat. Leather balls are your safest bet (not rubber cage balls)
Additionally, the bat “sleeves” for use in cages may not do enough to keep your bat from denting or breaking.
Hitting a baseball exerts a lot of force on your bat. To improve the life of your baseball bat, rotate it ¼ turn with every hit to keep it from getting worn on one side or denting.
Likewise, do not hit your bat against your cleats to clean them. This will damage the finish. You’re better off using a metal brush to do this.
To clean your baseball bat, a soft cloth, dishwasher soap and warm water will suffice for bats that are slightly dirty. For dirtier bats with scuff marks for instance, Magic Eraser works like a charm to clean your bat.
Stay away from solvents, acetone or other heavy-duty cleaners as they may damage the glossy finish on your bat. Read our full guide on how to clean and remove marks from your baseball bat
Breaking in Composite Bats
Unlike alloy baseball bats that are game ready hot out of the wrapper from the minute you buy one, composite bats must be broken in before playing major games with for them to reach their full potential.
The best way to do this, while getting good practice in is simply play with it. Take your new baseball bat out and play soft toss or swing off a tee with real baseballs.
Make about 150 to 200 swings, swinging at about 40% to 50% the power you’d normally use for about the first 100 hits. You can skip the tee work and simply do the soft toss if you prefer.
Ramp up your swing speed the closer you get to the 200 pitch mark. Additionally, to ensure that your baseball/softball bat gets broken in evenly, make sure to rotate your grip after every swing by about ¼”. This ensures your bat is fully broken in.
As a rule of thumb, DO NOT hit the yellow dimpled balls you often find in a batting cage. Cage balls are denser than regular baseballs, and have a greater chance of cracking your composite bat.
Follow these steps to properly break-in your bat and ensure it’s game ready when you first use it in a game.
What about heavy balls or weighted balls. They’re soft but heavy…