The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Viewpoint – Arm surgery does not solve baseball’s issues

By Matt Koper/ne news editor

Tommy John surgery, named for the Dodgers pitcher who had the first procedure done in 1974, is the process where a torn elbow ligament is replaced by a tendon from another muscle. 

The surgery may sound like a solution, but it’s not. In baseball, it has become nothing short of an epidemic.

The procedure is on a steady rise hitting some of the biggest arms in the major leagues including Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright, Mets pitcher Matt Harvey and recently Rangers star Yu Darvish. Those three don’t scratch the surface.

A study done by bleacherreport.com had the number of pitchers who had the surgery as of June 2013 at 124 and climbing. As of Opening Day on April 6, the number of pitchers who have gone down is already at seven with Darvish among them. The problem boils down to overuse.

The injuries don’t just show up once the pitchers reach the major leagues. It happens long before that.

Before ever stepping foot on a major-league mound, pitchers have thrown thousands of pitches when you combine their time as a little leaguer, high school and college player and minor leaguer.

Nobody’s elbow, even the guys who get paid top-dollar, can withstand that kind of use, especially if they’ve pitched year-round as teenagers with no time off. By the time they reach the big leagues, the damage is already done. They are a ticking time bomb.

Even during games, pitchers throw way too much. They’re allowed eight warm-up pitches in between innings, so if pitchers throw a complete game, they will have added 72 pitches to their total. That’s completely ridiculous and needs some attention. But that’s just a small part of the bigger picture.

MLB has a problem with no clear-cut solution, given the league has many avenues to explore such as a six-man rotation, expanding the rosters or giving pitchers more days off. They could also reduce the number of pitches thrown during warm-ups or limit the number of bullpen sessions leading up to starts.

Baseball needs to try something because the problem isn’t going away.

All hope isn’t lost, though. When MLB decides to set the precedent with changes aimed to reduce arm injuries, the rest of the baseball world will likely follow suit.

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