April 13, 2009

Caution urged for young baseball players

U.S. medical scientists are cautioning high school and college baseball players to be aware of and take precautions against throwing injuries.

Throwing a baseball is one of the fastest and most violent maneuvers that any joint in the body is subjected to, said Dr. Shane Seroyer, the study's lead author and a sports medicine fellow at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. The violent and rapid motion places numerous structures in the shoulder at risk for injury.

Injury prevention is the key to a long career, said the scientists, and young pitchers should limit the number and types of pitches thrown to minimize the risk of injury.

For pitchers under 14 years old, we encourage fast ball and change-up pitches and discourage the use of a curve ball to prevent injury, said Dr. Charles Bush-Joseph, sports medicine specialist at Rush and co-author of the report.

Bush-Joseph said the number and type of pitches appropriate for various age groups are:

--9-10 years old: No more than 50 pitches per game and 75 pitches per week.

--11-12 years old: No more than 75 pitches a game and 100 pitches a week.

--13-14 years old: Only 75 pitches per game and 125 pitches per week.

--14 years old: Begin throwing curve ball pitches.

--17 years old: Begin throwing slider pitches.

The study appears in the journal Sports Health.