With all of the Tommy John surgeries lately, Dr. James Andrews has been interviewed a lot. His view is that abuse of pitchers between Little League and high school has a lot to do with all of these young major leaguers going under the knife. Their UCLs just haven’t developed all the way yet and they can’t take the strain that older pitchers may be better equipped to manage.
And that’s before you figure in that they often have workloads that older pitchers never deal with. Like this:
For Rochester (Wash.) baseball coach Jerry Striegel, why fix something that ain’t broke?
Striegel went with starting pitcher Dylan Fosnacht for 14 innings in a marathon, 17-inning game against LaCenter that Rochester won 1-0 on Tuesday. Fosnacht reported on Twitter that he threw 194 pitches in the contest, striking out 17 batters.
High school coaches have zero incentive to preserve the bodies of the kids under their command. And the kids themselves aren’t often in the position to object or even recognize that what they’re being asked to do is rather crazy. Listen to Dylan Fosnacht’s comments after the game:
Of course you are. Because your coach and maybe other coaches and maybe your parents and certainly sports culture at large has drilled it into your head that “doing whatever it takes” is the best thing to do. For a high school game.
That lede is the best, though. “Why fix something that ain’t broke?” To the coach I’d ask “why break something that ain’t broke?”
Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant was one of the most prominent examples of service time manipulation in recent memory. He was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in baseball going into the 2015 season by Baseball America. He then had an incredible spring, batting .425 with a spring-high nine home runs and 15 RBI. The Cubs, however, didn’t add him to the Opening Day roster, instead keeping him in Triple-A for the first two weeks of the season, ensuring the club would get another year of control over Bryant because he wouldn’t accrue enough service time. He made his debut on April 17 and the rest was history. Bryant won the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year Award.
While the MLB Players Association filed a grievance on his behalf, Bryant didn’t say anything. But it was a learning moment for him. The same is true of the past offseason, which Bryant says “opened my eyes,” as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. He now considers labor issues a priority, saying, “I need to study up, have my voice heard, continue to learn, because this is going to affect us for years to come. And I’d be foolish not to kind of offer myself out there.”
As Wittenmyer notes, Bryant hopes to replace Jake Arrieta as the Cubs’ player reprensentative. The players make that decision later this month. Bryant also vowed to fight for the next collective bargaining agreement. He said, “Maybe the focus was on other things rather than some of the more important things. But I think with this next one things are definitely going to change, and there’ll definitely be more fight on our side just because we’re going to get the chance to experience the effects of some of the things we agreed to. The only way to get what you want here is to fight for it. And I think you’re going to see a lot of that.”
It’s good to see Bryant motivated by recent economic developments in baseball. Hopefully more players take his lead and become more informed, arming themselves with all of the tools they need to create a better situation for themselves when the current CBA expires.