Protecting the Pitcher

Fragile. Handle With Care. Is the title of an article in the New York Times on Tuesday September 11 whose theme was protecting the young pitcher by limiting innings pitched. Why protect, when we should be thinking build and develop. They are only fragile because we make them fragile. You protect by being proactive – by doing the correct work to prepare to pitch. I strongly believe we need to take a long hard look at what has become the contemporary approach toward development and training pitchers. They are athletes and should be coached and trained accordingly. Build them from the ground up, stop emphasizing the arm and shoulder; they are the last links in the kinetic chain. Work on the whole kinetic chain.

The biomechanics of pitching have been thoroughly studied. Look closely at those studies, don’t listen to opinion, look at scientific fact and develop the program accordingly. That is what we did with the White Sox almost twenty years ago. So far nothing has been to refute what we did.

Work on mechanics without making them so mechanical they look like clones. At the developmental stages teach them one pitch, the fast ball. Learn how to command the strike zone with a fastball, and then learn a change up instead of a breaking pitch. Breaking pitches should not be taught or allowed until at least the junior year of high school.

Institute a structured throwing program that includes throws at various distances and at varied intensities. Include once bounce throwing to a target to encourage rotation and correct and complete follow through. (Interesting side note on a throwing program – The Boston Red Sox have instituted Dice K’s throwing throughout their minor league system. How stupid – I thought they were a money ball team. Dice K’s program works for him, why not take the trouble to develop a program that fits their players. Monkey see, monkey do)

Build and train the pitcher that is how to protect the pitcher. Artificial pitch count limits do not solve the problem; they actually contribute to the problem. The pitcher never learns how to adjust and pitch in a tough situation and with a certain amount of fatigue. A good athletic development program will prepare them for the demands of pitching. Remember to be better at anything you must practice that activity, to become a better pitcher you must pitch.


At 9/16/07, 8:13 PM, Blogger Joe P. said...

Elbow problems with breaking pitches can also be traced back to bad mechanics- and bad coaching. Our coach, Ray Korn, claims the problem is throwing it with the fingers and wrist. He teaches the use of the entire body to throw it, and decelerate it; and you must be strong enough to do that.

By the way, are there any Cricket bowlers out there? Do you have similar arm & shoulder injuries as baseball?

At 9/17/07, 9:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cricket bowlers do have shoulder problems but not many elbow problems as baseball pitchers. One of the reason why is the mechanics of the bowlers versus pitchers. Bowlers do not break the elbow when throwing, while pitchers do within the throwing action. Question should be do javelin throwers have the same problems as baseball pitchers.


At 9/17/07, 10:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Since Buchholz had never thrown more than 98 pitches in a game before his no-hitter, the Red Sox said they would have replaced him if he had reached the 120-pitch limit. Epstein said it might “seem ridiculous,” but he defended it as a way to protect a pitcher who would have already thrown 22 more pitches than he had thrown in his life. "

What a joke of a comment! 22 more than he had thrown in his life? I doubt his HS or little league coach was that careful!

Mark Day


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