by Matt Stone
Biomechanical analysis: The study of a pitcher’s delivery. The Boston Red Sox have used it in the past to prevent injuries while the Baltimore Orioles and Cleveland Indians still abide by it. Many teams attempt to control the risk of injury through monitoring pitch count and only allowing a certain number of innings per game, which is standard in Major League baseball. But to many Major League pitchers and their coaches, this isn’t enough. Clay Buchholtz, for example, is on the DL for bursitis in his shoulder along with a strained trapezius. The star pitcher won’t be expected to play possibly before the All Star break this month. Jon Lester was almost out for the count not long ago, after limping off the mound in the eighth inning, against the Toronto Blue Jays, and Joel Hanrahan, unfortunately, has much more to worry about. His most recent injury (a torn flexor tendon muscle in his right arm) has provoked Tommy John’s Surgery. He will not be back as closer this season and it looks as though Andrew Bailey will take it from here.
Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Joel Hanrahan delivers to the Baltimore Orioles during the ninth inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Monday, April 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Biomechanical analysis can save a pitcher from future problems. It was in 1989, Al Leiter then of the New York Yankees, was over trained and overworked. His pitching career continued without proper analysis. After a three season stint with the Toronto Blue Jays, his pitching abruptly became a problem when he was forced to undergo two arthroscopic shoulder surgeries and a pinched nerve in his elbow. It would not have been a problem if he had just undergone biomechanical analysis. In 1991 he was the ‘poster child’ for the analysis. As soon as orthopedist, James Andrews, worked on him and his mechanics the tables turned. Together, they were able to work on a proper arm path. His career had then taken off and he became one of the better Major League pitchers.
It’s not high pitch counts or number of innings that can control whether or not a pitcher gets injured. Eventually, if you don’t look at mechanics, it’s only a matter of time until the pitcher will show up with an injury. Hence the reasons behind the copious amount of injuries we’ve seen this season for the Boston Red Sox.
Photo: The Mets have been snowed out twice/AP Jack Dempsey
On June 8 the Boston Red Sox took on the Los Angeles Angels times two due to a rainout June 7. Los Angeles won the first game (9-5), and the Red Sox won the second (7-2). I can’t believe double headers used to be scheduled for baseball organizations to increase their revenue. In my opinion, it’s just not healthy for players to go out on the field for that length of time in one day. I know they are professionals, but they are also only humans just like you and I. I think it’s too much to ask of them, to do their best and play their all for 18 plus straight innings. So, to answer the question, “are double headers disadvantageous?” I say yes; especially if the guys have to travel and play a game the next day. It’s definitely overworking them although, back in the day, late 1800’s and early 1900’s, starting pitchers used to pitch 18 straight innings without a hitch. (When bullpens were used infrequently) To top it off, there were pitchers that used to complete both games with victories, Ray Collins (1914), for instance, of the Red Sox, and Carl Mays (1918).
In any case, I’m all about health and I worry about not only the Boston Red Sox, but also players on other teams. We want to see a ball game, not a bunch of lethargic ballplayers go out and pretend to be conscious. I’m glad double headers are not scheduled as they were 21 years ago, and they are only used in unruly situations such as the search for the Boston Marathon suspects and rainouts or snow because just like you and I, those guys need their time off to recharge their batteries and to put forth a good show.
I know there are many out there who would disagree with me. In fact, there is contemplation among the organization to bring back scheduled double headers, again, to maximize revenue. I guess I would like to ask you, as fans, your opinion on the double header situation. “Are double headers disadvantageous?”