A baseball player's relationship with his bat is unique. In perhaps no other sport does a player's relationship to his equipment play such a critical role in his ultimate success, and as a result, baseball players are famously picky about what bats they use and how to get the most out of them.
So, in honor of International 'Bat' Appreciation Day today, what better way to celebrate than to find out some of the specifics of what goes into that process? That's why I went into the Rangers locker room to speak with a trio of players and find out just what their bat means to them:
PENCE : "I order the same length and weight, but I've tried different models throughout the year. So far this year, I've been locked into this Tucci bat. It's felt really good. I haven't broken as many as I do in the past, so I'm getting to have better, deeper relationships with my bats."
PENCE: "I really appreciate my bats. They make my job possible. I've gone through many different phases throughout my career where I used to name them. I still do, but I used to write it on the knob. They have personalities, and I enjoy working with them." (Some of the names Pence has used: Flash, Bolt, Tiny Tim, Big Jim, Big Papa, Bomber)
PENCE: "Always feel the barrel before every at bat. That's the target, we're trying to hit the barrel as much as we can. And we're going up there as a unit."
WISDOM: "They vary. Anywhere from 33 inches to 34 inches, and they vary in weight, too."
WISDOM: "It brings up the argument of 'is it the aimer or the arrow', and sometimes I think it's the arrow. I think it's just the feel. You know, you pick it up and say 'this is a winner.'"
WISDOM: "15 to 20 [broken bats], but I'll probably use upwards of 25, just based on feel."
GUZMAN: "I like maple. 34 [inches], and 31 1/2 [ounces]. Last year, it was only 31, but I wanted to juice it up a little bit. I think I'm getting a little stronger. 34/31 was starting to feel light for me."
GUZMAN: "I just feel like it's the best wood. I like ash, too, but I hit in BP with it and they just rip too fast. So I like maple because it lasts longer."
GUZMAN: "Six! (laughing) Ya, six bats. I break a lot of bats. I'll have probably a week or two without breaking any bats, then one game, I break 3 bats and stuff like that. So I take 6-7 bats on the road for a 9-game trip."
GUZMAN: "If it breaks with a base hit, then ya, I'll say 'thank you', give it a couple of kisses, and then 'good bye'. If I break it with a pop-up or something, it's like 'ok, thank you for coming, good bye.'"