The state Senate Education Committee approved a bill today that would place a one-year moratorium on the use of metal bats in high school baseball games, Assemblyman Jared Huffman said.

The vote was 5-1 and the bill, AB7, now heads to a vote by the full Senate.

Huffman, D-San Rafael, proposed a three-year moratorium in the bill but he accepted the committee’s recommendation for a one-year moratorium, his spokesman Lawrence Cooper said.

The one-year moratorium is consistent with the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s current review of safety standards, Cooper said.

The bill is in response to the injury of Marin Catholic High School player Gunnar Sandberg who was hit in the head on March 11 with a baseball hit with a metal bat.

Sandberg, 16, was put in a medically-induced coma at Marin General Hospital and a portion of his skull was removed as his brain swelled.

He was transferred to a rehabilitation facility in San Francisco and was expected to be released today but will still under go further therapy on an out-patient basis, his family said.

The incident revived the debate about using metal bats which critics claim make the ball travel faster than those hit with wood bats.

The issue has been studied since the 1970s and high school teams in the Marin County Athletic League agreed not to use non-wood bats for the remainder of this season.

“This tragedy is a wake up call,” Huffman said in a news release.

“It’s time to seriously consider the safety of allowing kids to use performance-enhancing metal bats with the pitcher standing 60 feet away with virtually no protection,” Huffman said.

“If using metal bats creates an additional risk of injury or death, as the evidence strongly suggests, then we shouldn’t hesitate to err on the side of safety and require our high school athletes to use traditional wood bats – the same bats used by Major League players so many of them admire and aspire to be,” Huffman said.

Huffman said his bill does not dictate the outcome of the debate but “provides an appropriate precautionary measure – and a leveling of the playing field, for leagues and teams who choose to protect pitchers by suspending the use of performance-enhancing bats while baseball officials sort out the options over the next few years.”

Senate Education Committee Chair Gloria Romero, D-East Los Angles, and Committee member Senator Elaine Alquist, D-San Jose, asked to be co-authors of the bill today, Cooper said.

The California Athletic Trainer’s Association and the California Brain Injury Association support Huffman’s bill, Cooper said.

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