I have long been troubled by the sight of an infielder in baseball trying to field a ball when pieces of the hitter’s bat are flying out onto the baseball field. Usually things end up the way they should, with the routine outs becoming outs, and the hits becoming hits. But just the same I often see a fielder hesitating to approach the ball in these cases, and I don’t think they should have to. The fielder shouldn’t have to choose between assuring his safety from being injured by flying wooden shards and making the play. That’s why I’d like to see a rule change to prevent having to make that choice.
Some years ago in an online forum I suggested that in such situations, the batter should be called out for interference. Specifically, if the batter’s bat or any portion of his bat interferes with or impedes a fielder’s ability to field a ball batted in fair territory, this by the judgement of the umpires, then the batter is out. There are already interference rules in the books; this would just extend them in what I think is a sensible way, which in my view is consistent with the existing interference rules. I’m making the call for this change again. Hopefully it will not only help fielders stay safe, but may also reduce the brittleness of some bats in use, so that we see fewer broken bats in the first place. Right now, there really isn’t a deterrent to using bats that are prone to breaking; it’s time to create one.