Adam LaRoche undecided on using banned pink bats on Mother’s Day


(Patrick McDermott / Getty Images)

Adam LaRoche has used pink bats on Mother’s Day in the past. But clubhouse manager Mike Wallace told LaRoche on Friday that this Mother’s Day he couldn’t use his pink bats, made by Minnesota-based manufacturer Max Bats, because they weren’t designed by Louisville Slugger which holds the exclusive rights to permitted pink bats.

“If I can, I will,” LaRoche said on Saturday. “I don’t want to get the bat company in trouble.” (UPDATE, 2:00 p.m.: LaRoche used his regular bat on Sunday. Denard Span and Ryan Zimmerman were among the players to use pink Louisville Sluggers bats.)

Across baseball, Mother’s Day is celebrated with pink equipment to help raise awareness for breast cancer issues. LaRoche and others, including Bryce Harper and Davey Johnson, will be sporting pink cleats during the game. There are also pink gloves, wristbands, necklaces and even balls with pink stitches. Danny Espinosa had two pink Louisville Slugger bats at his locker on Sunday. Pink bats have also become part of the tradition but an apparent change in MLB policy has riled some players.

According to a Yahoo! Sports report, MLB told league-approved bat manufactures in April that only Louisville Slugger is allowed to make pink bats with its name on the label. Louisville Slugger’s parent company made a donation to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the MLB’s charitable partner, to earn the exclusive licensee rights. The report also states that the other manufacturers were allowed to make pink bats but without their own logos affixed. Any violators would be subject to a fine.

MLB clarified its policy on Friday, saying that pink bats made by other companies can be used on Sunday as long the manufacturer makes a “modest donation” to the Komen foundation.

(UPDATE 8:25 p.m.: According to a league official, this was, in fact, the second year in which pink bats made by companies other than Louisville Slugger could be used on Mother’s Day if a charitable donation was made to the Komen foundation. If a player used a banned bat in a game, the player wouldn’t be subject to fines or discipline. The bat manufacturer, however, would be in violation of rules.)

LaRoche wasn’t alone in his desire to use pink bats designed by Max Bats. Baltimore outfielder Nick Markakis and Minnesota third baseman Trevor Plouffe, both whose mothers are breast cancer survivors, were told they couldn’t use bats that had Max Bats labels. “Seriously disgusted that a company would block awareness for Breast Cancer research so their brand can stand out,” Plouffe said in a tweet on Friday.

LaRoche said Saturday that he was still unsure if he would use his pink MaxBats in Sunday’s game. If the fine for using the bats came to him, he said he would gladly pay it.

“If I was getting in trouble, I don’t care,” he said. “But if the bat company is going to get in trouble, then no.”

James Wagner joined the Post in August 2010 and, prior to covering the Nationals, covered high school sports across the region.
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James Wagner · May 12, 2013