On this year's opening day in Major League Baseball, team rosters aren't the only aspect of the game that have undergone a transformation.
Louisville Slugger, perhaps the most widely recognized manufacturer of bats, announced that it has made significant changes to its signature product for the first time in decades. The company is producing bats with firmer wood in the hopes that they are less likely to break. Players who tested the new bats at the end of the 2012 season had positive things to say about the new equipment.
"In terms of the slope of the grain, which determines how hard the wood will be, Louisville has been able to harvest the best wood with the most perfect as you can get slope of grain," Howard Smith, vice president of licensing for Major League Baseball, told the Associated Press. "It has absolutely contributed to less bats breaking on the field."
And on these stronger bats will be a new logo, the first time in more than 30 years that Louisville Slugger has changed its design.
Louisville Slugger CEO John Hillerich told the Associated Press that the changes are the result of years of internal review.
"You have to ask yourself, Do you really need to change it?" Hillerich said. "Our greatest asset is our brand."
A new selection process for wood, as well as better drying and processing methods, have helped Louisville Slugger produce sturdier bats. In previous years, splintering bats could be potentially harmful to infielders. Louisville Slugger, as well as MLB, hope the stronger bats eliminate that problem.
The new logo on the bats is similar to the old one, but this time the "Louisville Slugger" looks slightly different and there is an interlocking "LS" above the name. While it can be risky for a company, especially one with the 129-year track record of Louisville Slugger, to alter its logo, executives at the company thought it was time for a change.
"When you've been in the market that long, consumers may start to think you are not as contemporary or relevant as you really are," Kyle Schlegel, vice president of global marketing for Hillerich & Bradsby, told the Associated Press. "A logo could signal something new. It helps get attention back to a mature brand."