Tommy John surgery appears to be the norm in baseball this year as an unsettling number of players have received the operation in 2014. In fact, 18 pitchers have headed to surgery and it is only May. Pitchers the likes of Matt Moore, Ivan Nova, Jose Fernandez, Kris Medlen and more have all been lost to surgery. The Washington Nationals starting pitcher and phenom, Stephen Strasburg had Tommy John surgery in 2010.
Other than a doctor, who better to weigh in on pitching injuries than Strasburg. The youngster has been through major surgery, rebounded well and has a career ahead of him. While admittedly not a doctor, Strasburg sees a trend that could be detrimental to the youngsters playing the game of baseball today. Here are just some of the quotes that Strasburg has provided.
Strasburg talked about the changes in youth pitching since his days of travel ball. Remember folks, that was not all that long ago.
“Even during the offseason, I go watch my buddy’s travel team and the team they are facing, they bring this kid in,” Strasburg said. “It’s December and he throws 120 pitches in four innings. [There is this other kid] who threw 190 pitches in 14 innings in high school. That whole mindset of travel ball and high school, it’s becoming such a year-round sport. Pitchers at 9 years old are exclusively pitchers, not playing any other positions. For me, at that age, I played other positions, too.”
Strasburg also reflected on the situation that led up to his amazing foray into the major leagues as well as what sent him under the knife so soon.
“I didn’t have my legs under me when I got called up,” Strasburg said. “You have so much more adrenaline going on. You are not used to it. You are reaching back on every pitch, trying to make every pitch better. You don’t need to go and try to throw 100 [mph] every time. You are out there trying to do it, especially with the young guys. They might be able to. Locating the fastball a little bit better, try to change speeds a little bit more — just understanding the situation will definitely help you. Having veterans in the clubhouse, I’ve been able to learn those things. In the course of the season, it adds up.”
Could Strasburg be on to something when it comes to young pitchers and their futures with the game of baseball? He does have a unique level of insight having walked in their shoes, to a degree, and being called up early with the weight of the worlds expectations on his shoulders.
But why are there more professional players going under the knife now than in the past? I will be taking a look at that over the next week so be on the lookout for the past and future of Tommy John surgery. Until then take a minute and reflect on Strasburg and his comments. They are food for thought, not fast food either.