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Must-click link: Jonah Keri on the Rangers and pitching injuries

Sep 13, 2010, 2:30 PM EST

Jonah Keri has a long, fascinating piece up today about the Texas Rangers and their approach to pitching and pitcher injury prevention. It’s not some analysis piece from afar: it’s based on his original
reporting and research conducted over the past year, and it’s a
must-read.

The short version: the Rangers have largely rejected the current dogma about babying pitchers and limiting their workload. Not that they’ve gone back to the 60s, mind you. Rather, they’ve started from scratch, thinking about what it really takes to pitch in the Texas heat and focus on the kinds of training and drills that make success in that environment — and in the modern offensive environment — more likely. Sprints instead of distance running. Throwing batting practice between starts. Figuring out each pitcher’s fatigue point rather than mindlessly deciding that everyone wears out at 100 pitches.

It’s probably too early to tell how successful these methods will ultimately be. My personal sense is that some pitchers will break no matter how much you baby them and others will last no matter how hard you work them because that’s just the way genes roll.  But as Keri notes, the Rangers aren’t content to treat pitcher usage like it was religion or something (“and thou shalt only throw 100 pitchers lest ye be damned”). They’re using reason and observation and are trying new things.

Clear some time this afternoon and give Jonah’s piece a read.

  1. okobojicat - Sep 13, 2010 at 2:57 PM

    It really is a great piece. Its just damn long (think NYT Magazine Feature Piece).
    .
    I thought the most interesting incites were from the Strength and Conditioning guy. How he was simply begging to try out something like this. Finally found people who wanted to listen.
    .
    The next step of creating healthy (and better pitchers) is really going to be creating better minor league food and nutritional staples. Get those players better food, more money, perhaps a chef (or a full-time nutritionist at each level) and a nice workout room in the ballpark.
    .
    The Twins have complained for years about different players health / fitness, but if they had a nutritionist in the minor leagues writing out recipes and haranguing players for each Micky-Dees everyday, those players would be fitter.

  2. Megary - Sep 13, 2010 at 3:08 PM

    Fascinating, indeed. Proper pitching mechanics, strength training, injury prevention etc. is like the last great american whale of baseball. I don’t think the Rangers will catch it, but at least they aren’t afraid to try. By doing what they are doing, they will advance the understanding of the physical limitations of pitching whether what they try is ultimately successful or not.

  3. Tony A - Sep 13, 2010 at 3:53 PM

    Maybe, even, someone will give Mike Marshall’s ideas a shot…Nah, that ain’t gonna happen.

  4. dcollins8 - Sep 14, 2010 at 1:27 PM

    I have visited with a guy that is pretty high up with the MLB scouting bureau and he contends that the young guys dont throw enough. Also another point was made that weights might actually be counter productive because of the tightening of the muscles.

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