Story - Elite youth pitcher to Tommy John Surgery

A good read for parents of elite youth pitchers.

[quote=“jdfromfla”]This is how I tried to respond;


Original Post from Mr. Sillanpaa discussing Dr. Marshall’s viewpoint. I reread Ted’s posts to understand his perspective.

Interesting read looking forward to the other parts of it.

I read this and was absolutely horrified. That pitching coach ought to be tarred and feathered and chased out of town, to say the least. He saw the beginnings of trouble and did nothing because he wanted to win at any cost, wanted to show off to all the other coaches and what have you. The doctors and others at ASMI were absolutely correct; the kid blew out his arm long before the trouble began because his growth plates, etc. had not fully matured.
This corroborates something I posted on Baseball Think Tank some time ago, having to do with putting the cart before the horse. That’s exactly the trouble with kids pitching long before they’re ready: they haven’t yet learned to throw, and there they are, trying to emulate Justin Verlander or C.C. Sabathia or whoever. And what does it get them? Everybody, parents, coaches, even players themselves, need to read this and be warned. :shock:

This is how I tried to respond;

If anyone wants to reply via their Facebook log-in and dump my response, I give you my permission.

Well said JD.

I’ve reread this story many times now to learn from his experience. I can only assume our son’s are very similar. I’ve chronicled my son’s experience from 9U though this year, now as a 13U pitcher who is 6’ 180#+ kid. At 10, he was the 1st kid drafted in LL Majors. He threw a no-hitter in the first game. At 11, he pitched some against High School freshman, who all said he threw harder than the kids in HS. At 12, he average 3 strike-outs per inning for the entire year, and threw so hard that our local LL created rules for hitters hitting against him. At 13, the first thing the HS coach saw in the spring was a fire-baller who could throw for his team. Teammates of his age come up to his shoulder. But, after his 2nd game he developed some soreness in his throwing elbow. I shut him down for two weeks and put a 50 pitch pitch count on him for the rest of the year. Sounds harsh, but someone - and I forget who it was - said the most important thing at 13/14U was to stay healthy. There’s been no glory this year. There’s only been a couple of innings where he’s had his fastball smoking, where the WOW factor registered. Only a few times where he lit up the radar and every parent in the stands watched with their lips dropped wondering where this kid came from.

No glory at 13. Just a closer and a kid who comes in to pitch when the coach doesn’t want to be 10-runned. But he’s healthy. And that really was the only goal we set this year.

We all are collectively all to blame for this.

The baseball mentality and establishment that allows injurious mechanical force application to thrive, year after year with no changes or understanding.

The mechanical cause is known and explained in detail, why this injury occurs!!!

It’s so simple to eliminate that it’s ridiculous.

Fathers- ask your son pitchers to swing their arms down then back then up while supinating the forearm and outwardly rotating the Humerus so when he arrives at driveline height ( the height of the elbows line when throwing vertically) with the hand under the ball and thumb up. This allows you to throw from more length and has you already in position (3/4 of the transition phase complete) to start your acceleration phase without injurious late forearm bounce.

This particular injury (MCL micro tearing degradation) is caused by pronating the pendulum swing arrival (hand on top of the ball, thumb down) leaving the Humerus inwardly rotated so that when you start your acceleration phase you are also performing your Humeral/forearm transition phase causing forearm bounce back.

The question that pitchers must ask themselves who are going through this or have gone through this is should I continue to pitch with the same arrival mechanics and continue to supinate my pitches???

[quote]We didn’t say a word to the coach. In some ways, we supposed that the only way my son was going to get relief from the elbow pain would be to feel such great pain that he couldn’t pitch. Or, maybe, the ligament would just tear and he wouldn’t be effective. We were still upset when the coach sent him back down to start a JV the next Wednesday. (No. We didn’t complain then either.)

My son was playing for Nor Cal Baseball in the summer following his freshman year. He rested awhile after the prep season, save for an inning in a scrimmage. Unlike other times he’d rested, his elbow hurt all the time. He was ready to start a tournament-opener in Arizona against a team from Texas — and his elbow just didn’t respond. He might’ve survived the second inning, even with uncharacteristic lack of control, but a couple errors hurt.[/quote]

…And yet the dad said nothing. Really? The dad said nothing, knowing the pain his son was experiencing and then did less than nothing. He had him play summer ball.
Here is a kid who should have been shut down. Blaming the coaches is easy. Did the coach use a stud pitcher? Yes. Where were the parents. It’s past time in our society for parents to take back conttrol of their kids instead of deferring to coaches or worse deferring to having their kids seen as superstars.
While I would never wish his son’s situation on anyone, anywhere, Mr. Sillinpaa created this monster of a situation. Not the coaches, not Dr. Ting, but the father.

Did you folks know I wasn’t in your group?

Yeah, I stumbled on your comments Dec. 13, 2013.

All the criticism. The comments directed at me … didn’t see 'em! Didn’t get a chance to respond to the second-guessers or … wait … why didn’t you comment on the story so I could respond?

You can reach me at if you have questions or comments.

I just finished a story about Dr. Mike Marshall’s pitching theories that will be published soon. And, my son’s a senior in high school still trying to get back to elite status after elbow surgery. I’m 57 years and, at one point this summer, I put on the catchers gear myself so he could keep up with his throwing program.

And, I’ve written a great deal about how I mishandled my son…how much thought our whole family gave to him, his health, etc. from the time he was 8 years old. But, you didn’t read that!

You guys are amazing.

I enjoy discussion and know way more than I ever cared to know about pitching injuries.

Ted Sillanpaa

Out of curiosity, with the perspective and benefit of hindsight, what would you do differently from the beginning of your son playing baseball?

A baby has to crawl before s/he can walk, and walk before s/he can run. And a kid has to learn to throw, and throw with intent, before s/he can even think about pitching. The problem, as I see it, is that too many coaches—and too many parents—are just too impatient; they see that the kid can throw the baseball and so they start right off the bat with mechanics and more mechanics, they shove the kid right into travel ball and other organized ball before said kid is ready, and they have their heads full of glory and impressing others instead of just plain common sense. No wonder that those kids are pitching before they have learned to throw, and as a result they blow out their arms at age 10, 11 and end up having Tommy John surgery and—maybe they will end up never pitching again. And what does it get everybody?
I strongly believe that a kid should not even think about pitching per se until s/he hits the teens, and the thing to do is go slow. Pitching is not tiddlywinks or some such. And what needs to be done, at the right time, is get with a really good pitching coach who can work with kids—who will determine a youngster’s arm slot and what the kid is capable of, and then teach him/her the correct procedures and how to avoid injury. Is that too much to ask? :baseballpitcher:

Mr. Sillanpaa,
I read your article when it was originally posted on this site. Believe the posters intention was to pass along information helpful for all of us that we might not have seen otherwise. Glad you wrote & also poster shared on this site; eye opening information that should make all of us think. Always tempting to let our kids pitch & especially tempting when others are asking and when our kid wants to do it. Overuse is an issue & I believe you sharing your sons story is helpful for the rest of us to hopefully avoid the same pitfalls. Hope your sons recover continues to progress & he’s back to form in the near future. Really don’t believe anyone meant to be insulting on this site. I do appreciate reading your story & wish you the best.

I stand by my original comments on this thread. Hindsight is 20/20.