RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Players have been altering bats for decades in a bid to improve their grip — adding pine-tar or some specialized grip tape, maybe shaving the handle slightly to make it thinner.
Gradually, some players have started gravitating to a more revolutionary option offered by a company that set up shop deep in a warehouse in Renton, Washington. As the company's name suggests, Axe Bat has developed a bat that fundamentally changes the shape of the bat's handle so you hold it like an axe.
Some major leaguers like the feel. Others have turned to the axe handle as an option after hand or forearm injuries.
The fact that the Mariners are spending money doesn't necessarily explain the team's best start since 2009, but whether it's causation or correlation, the M's and their fans have to be happy that the club is shedding its tight-fisted reputation.