By Corey J. Corbin
Allied News Sports Editor
LAST WEEK AS I looked through Associated Press stories, I found a story about Little League International wanting to adopt a pitch count rule.
That’s as good an idea as I’ve ever heard.
Under the current little league rules, pitchers in the Major (11-12) and Minor (9-10) divisions can only pitch six innings — a regulation game. Junior (13-14) and Senior (15-16) division pitchers can pitch their regulation game (seven innings).
The rules also dictate how much rest a pitcher needs before being allowed to pitch again.
For instance if a pitcher pitches six innings, he or she isn’t allowed to pitch again for a predetermined number of days, but if the player pitches just one inning, he or she can pitch in the next game.
The number of innings pitched is where the problem lies.
In the Section 2 Major Division tournament in Saegertown last month, Butler Township trotted out pitcher Matthew Baranchak to pitch in the “if necessary” game against Grove City.
Baranchak was having difficulties finding the strike zone all evening and in the process, his pitch count soared as the GC batters waited for a good pitch to hit.
By the end of the game, the Butler Township 12-year-old had thrown almost 160 pitches — the Grove City coaching staff was keeping track.
That’s too much. Way too much.
Under the proposed pitch count, Baranchak’s 157 pitches were seven pitches over twice the suggested amount of 75 pitches.
The number of pitches allowed increases with each age.
For example, 17- and 18-year-olds are allowed to throw 105 pitches per outing.
In each instance, the pitcher must not pitch for four days after throwing 61 pitches.
Little league came to the 75-pitch pitch count after doing its homework.
Dr. James Andrews, a surgeon who founded the American Sports Medicine Institute in Birmingham, Ala., noticed several years ago more kids were experiencing arm and shoulder pains.
Andrews and researcher Glenn Fleisig helped conduct a 2002 study in Alabama.
According to the study, the twosome found elbow and shoulder pain was more prevalent in young pitchers who threw more than 75 pitches in a game as compared to those who threw less than 75.
The pains are something these youngsters shouldn’t be experiencing, yet they still do.
A new rule was finally adopted by Little League Baseball Friday and the number of arm injuries should go down.
Starting in 2007, the number of pitches thrown in a game will determine how long that player must rest before returning to the mound. The new rules would bar 11- and 12-year-olds from throwing more than 85 pitches a day. The limits vary with age.
Hopefully the move will save a young arm or two.
By Corey J. Corbin