Interesting Article

Interesting article about the Rangers and changes in they way they train pitchers.

I know one pitcher’s experience doesn’t condemn or prove anything, but here’s are 2 experiences from 2 pitchers currently in the Rangers’ MiL system.

The 1st was drafted in the 3rd round, threw less than 10 innings in his 1st MiL season, then sustained an arm injury and didn’t throw a pitch last season. The jury’s out on him for moving on.

The 2nd was drafted after 2 very successful seasons in JUCO, never having any arm issues. He had a great 1st season, but when it was over was found to have severe shoulder issues, and is now in much doubt as to his future.

Now I sure don’t blame the Ranger organization because I’m a firm believer in that both players were much overused/abused for many years prior. But to make it out that the Rangers have some magic secret that will solve all pitching injury issues is a pretty big pantload.

In all sports there are guys that cant stay healthy and guys that stay healthy despite themselves. I have known a guy, a first round draft pick in the NFL, who logged less than two seasons worth of starts in a four year injury plagued career…he spent years after his 20 something game career getting cut on and walking with a limp. Other guys log 15 years in the trenches, leave the sport and go out running marathons. My point is looking at indivdual cases (this guy got hurt therefore a training modality doesnt work) proves nothing in a vacuum. One thing that should be clear with the rate pitchers go on the DL in MLB is that what MLB has doing with pitchers doesnt protect them. Or, perhaps, the act of throwing a baseball at a high level is an activity that places so much strain on specific areas of the body the injury rate will always remain high no matter what. What the Rangers are doing that I commend is trying to break the mold that has been in place and look at some different things. Will it work in the long term? Who knows.
The bigger issue to me than what a major league team does with physically gifted players who have already dominated lower levels is what happens, or doesnt happen, with younger players. The misguided notion of “rest is best” almost ensures that younger kids (through high school) are going to continue to struggle with weak, tired and sore arms. I agree that there is no “magic bullet” or single answer. Pitching is an indivdual thing. However, the concept (being applied all over with youth ball through high school) that the best way to prepare for an activity (throwing) by NOT doing it (limited longtoss, time away from throwing ect.) is as silly as telling someone to prepare for a marathon by not running.

I can tell you first hand that this type of throwing program is not what their minor league guys are being asked to follow. I have 3 guys within the Rangers org that come to Nashville to train with us in the off-season and their throwing program sent from the “Brass” is a typical, generic type throwing program.

Take a look at the number of Texas pitchers on the DL in both the Mil and ML since Ryan took over, and compare it to other ML teams.

Where do you get your proof that “rest is best” almost ensures that younger kids (through high school) are going to continue to struggle with weak, tired and sore arms.

You’re mischaracterizing the concept being applied. No one advocates “not throwing” as a preparation technique. Its simply a matter of taking medical advice. It’s a concept as old as the time there have been people who act as “healers”. “A guy walks into the Dr’s office and says, my shoulder hurts when I raise my arm. The Dr says, Don’t raise your arm.”

Do you also advocate kids disregarding a concussion and playing football? What you’re doing it seems, is advocating being a man and playing through pain, regardless of the consequences.

Scorekeeper,

I didn’t interpret the comment by fearsome four as “man” up. He’s right on, most kids don’t throw enough and most coaches believe rest is best.

I don’t think he’s saying that if a player is hurt that he should continue to throw.

Did I read his post wrong?

Did you read that sentence right? Yes and no. It all depends on the severity of the injury. Did the pitcher actually throw his arm out, or was it just a strain of some kind? If the latter, rest can help for a period of time, and then the pitcher can get back into it in easy stages. But if he threw his arm out, he needs to see an orthopedic physician who specializes in sports injuries ASAP, because this can be very serious. There is no hard and fast rule, no “one size fits all” in this case.
As for the Rangers, they may be overdoing things at times. They need to take time to assess the individual situation. What worked for Nolan Ryan may not work so well for one of the other guys, and of all people he should know this! 8)

I like the one point Jaeger makes and that is ‘listening to your arm.’

I think with any type of throwing program or workout program, the most important thing is to listen to your body.

Everyone’s body is different and trying to get everyone to do the same thing is like trying to make everyone do the same amount on a lifting exercise.

I think every player should have a program tailored to the player’s wants/needs.

Well BBTT, I don’t mean to be contentious, but where do you get your information that “most kids don’t throw enough”? And why shouldn’t coaches believe rest is best?

I’ll go along with “many” kids don’t throw enough, but I’d be real careful about how I’d characterize “most” kids. IMHO and the opinion of many others more knowledgeable than I, a certain degree of rest after a pitching outing is something that should be done. You and those people may well have a disagreement on how much rest there should be for any given situation, but no one could possibly pitch a game every day, every other day, or even every 3rd, 4th, or 5th day without suffering some effect.

Zita pretty much hit the nail dead on the head when she said: “They need to take time to assess the individual situation. What worked for Nolan Ryan may not work so well for one of the other guys, and of all people he should know this!” Pitching is a very personal and therefore individual thing, and players don’t all respond the same way to the things they come across.

Great article and discussion. The Rangers had quite a few pitchers on the DL in 2012. Is it due to their program that their young pitchers are starting to breakdown??? Are long toss, higher pitch counts, more between starts throwing to blame? You will never know. If the Rangers program works, then many will tout their philiosophy and long toss as the reason. If injuries occur many will blame poor mechanics, genetics, prior use and abuse, bad luck etc etc. Too many variables to measure and account for. I do think it is relevant that there has been only 1 scientific study of Long Toss and it did not endorse the training method.

Scorekeeper,

I’m referring to kids that I encounter on a regular basis. My thoughts are that rest is necessary but so is an active recovery period. I believe many coaches and player define “rest” as not throwing. There is a difference.

It’s all based on the individual and there is no answer that fits everyone.

I’m very interested in seeing what the Cubs will be doing with their pitcher, now that Derek Johnson is the PC. Should be interesting.

Thinktank,
Agreed. A lot of kids today are held back from throwing. Notice I said throwing, not pitching. Kids have to throw. What happened to the days of kids throwing baseballs (and footballs) til the streetlights came on.

I happen to agree with Jaeqer’s premise;

“The arm is an organism that wants to grow and evolve,” Jaeger says, the power of his convictions triggering excitement in his voice. “It likes blood flow and range of motion. We’re not talking overstimulation. It’s just letting the arm do what it wants to do.”

I also disagree with the 120 foot limit. Its like going to a gym every day and bench pressing 75 lbs for 10 reps. How much stregnth are you building?

Pitcher’s need to build arm stregnth. Is rest needed for recovery? Yes. But, even Dr. Fleisig agrees that pitchers need to be pushed to the point of fatigue to help them get stronger.

Ryan may be a bit overagressive in his methods. Time will tell. I don’t think anyone can condemn his methodology without giving the program a few years to see how it pans out.

Turn,

I am not a big LT fan. I just don’t see the science or studies to justify some of the claims. Jaegar seems to give his opinions and then wraps them around some yoga principles or eastern philosophy. I think the whole program would be more convincing if they would actually do some additional independent studies that looked at long toss. Just my opinion.

There is problem with this analogy. If you go to the gym, you should use the same form and technique for the bench press whether it 75lbs or 275lbs. In long toss, the further out you go you change your form and increase the stress on the elbow. Like the guy who lifts his a$$ and arches his back off the bench to lift heavier weights.

[quote]
There is problem with this analogy. If you go to the gym, you should use the same form and technique for the bench press whether it 75lbs or 275lbs. [/quote]

How would you know if you never lifted more than 75 lbs?

Doc,
Sorry but I disagree. We are talking apples and oranges here. The point I made was if you never stress the muscles, tendons, joints and all the rest, how can you possibly build strength.

Also, if you look at AJ’s program prior to throwing there is a dynamic warm up phase before throwing. Second is throwing building out to max distances with max effort. Do the mechanics change slightly to account for angle of the throw, Sure, but on the pull down phase of the program the mechanics come back into line.

The key to long toss or any program, as you well know, is discipline. The discipline is in the movement. The exercises should be done properly and consistently to prevent injury.

[quote=“Baseballthinktank.com”][quote]
There is problem with this analogy. If you go to the gym, you should use the same form and technique for the bench press whether it 75lbs or 275lbs. [/quote]

How would you know if you never lifted more than 75 lbs?[/quote]

I dont see the analogy. Lifting 75lbs for 10 reps indefintely would be pointless. However staying at 65’6" (inside 120’) has a point in that you are replicating the conditions under which you pitch. Going outside that distance may produce little benefit if you are actually changing your mechanics to throw the increased distance. Also there is no evidence that LTing at distances greater than 120 feet improves accuracy, velocity, arm strength or arm health.

Nothing wrong with disagreeing. I would claim that there is no empirical evidence that LT builds arm strength or arm health. There are more effective ways of doing this. There is evidence in the ASMI study that greater stress is placed on the arm that could be injurious.

Many pitching coaches, past and present, have advocated throwing every day. Not pitching, just throwing. Playing catch for twenty or thirty minutes. And what’s wrong with that? It’s one of the best ways to build up arm strength and flexibility, keep the arm loose. I don’t see why coaches at the lower levels of the game hold the kids back from doing this; in my opinion they’re being very stupid—or they have a hidden agenda, take your pick, it’s still stupid. I remember how we used to go out into the street and play stickball or just play catch until our folks yelled out the window "Jerry, Susie, dinnertime!"
There’s another point I want to raise. Too much regimentation. Too much of a specific set of rules and regulations with a lot of those “programs” and too much insistence that everybody who participates follows these rules and does everything a specific way, no room for experimentation, no flexibility, go in lockstep so to speak. Even if doing this might result in injury, this is how you have to do it.
I’m reminded of something that’s very specific to baseball. As we all know, the St. Louis Browns—one of the lousiest teams in creation—won the American League pennant in 1944 (only to lose the World Series to the Cardinals), and then they hit the skids. They got desperate. Now you’d think they would do something to help themselves—get a couple of players who knew how to play the game, a change in coaches, even a new manager? Oh no. What they did was, the brains in the front office decided to hire a psychologist who worked with hypnosis in the hope that he could pull the team out of that quicksand in which they found themselves. This was at the beginning of the 1950 spring training.
It didn’t work. This psychologist may have been a good one when it came to other areas, but when it came to hypnosis this guy was, in the words of a great pitcher on another team in the league, a “one-trick pony”. He had one technique that he used so much that he ran it into the ground, and the reason it didn’t work was that he failed to recognize one crucial fact: what would work for Joe Zilch might not work for Jane Zip, and one has to find something that would work for her. And because of his failure to recognize this, the Browns started the season in the cellar, and by the end of May they were still in the cellar. So they fired this psychologist. Oh, he wrote a book—he called it “The Psychologist At Bat”—and to put it bluntly, he struck out swinging. I happened to meet and talk with Roy Sievers at a SABR gathering in Cleveland—he had been with the team at the time—and we spoke about this disastrous episode, and you should have seen the faces he made!
I told Sievers that I had managed to get a copy of that book (long out of print). I read it, and at the end where there are some blank pages I grabbed a marking pen and wrote a six-word comment:
“EDDIE LOPAT WAS RIGHT ABOUT HIM!” And we shared a good laugh.
The whole point is that you really have to consider the individual, his/her particular needs and requirements, and tailor the conditioning programs accordingly. Cookie-cutter doesn’t cut it. :shock: :roll: :o

Well said Zita. I agree completely.