Pitcher health remains concern in high school baseball

March 16, 2015 / BaseballSports Medicine
Tommy John surgery is becoming more common amongst pitchers today, and that’s forced a number of organizations to scrutinize workload and days of rest.

States like Alabama, Colorado and Vermont have rules in place to provide pitchers greater opportunities for rest, but on a national scale health experts argue there is much to be done.

The National Federation of State High School Associations posted a piece today looking at the issue, and the article mentions an “arm-care initiative” that will be held at the conclusion of this summer’s Baseball Rules Committee meeting.

From the article:

Elliot Hopkins, NFHS director of sports and student services and liaison to the Baseball Rules Committee, plans to have representatives from state associations, USA Baseball, MLB and the NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee discuss different pitching restrictions and arm care.

“We want our membership to know what’s available and to walk away evaluating their current policies,” Hopkins said.

The Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) has an outs limitation for pitchers, but has discussed the possibility of a pitch-count limit.

“Our baseball committee has discussed the issue a great deal recently,” said Mark Uyl, MHSAA assistant director. “While one could argue that a pitch count would be a better measure of the stress on a pitcher’s arm and body, we’ve found many challenges in moving to pitch counts over limits on innings.”

Uyl said those challenges include whether pitch counts can be tracked easily and who keeps track. While a solution would be to have a scoreboard with a visible pitch count, that puts new costs on a school to update or modify their scoreboards.

Clearly it’s not as simple as approving a new measure and forcing schools to adhere to it. There are costs and other hurdles to consider.

We’ll be watching closely to see what comes of the June meeting. We don’t talk about arm injuries as much as we do concussions, but they’re gaining more attention over the last few years as big name players fall victim to debilitating injuries.

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