MSHSL Introduces New Pitcher Protections In 2017
The Minnesota State High School League is introducing new rules designed to protect pitchers' arms for the 2017 season and beyond. A limit to the number of pitches thrown over a period of time, along with a mandated period of rest are among the new rules.
"The National Federation of High School Associations told each state that they all needed to come up with some sort of pitch count policy, because of the number of arm injuries nationally," Bob Karn told Granite City Sports.
"The policy is really very specific and will require a good deal of administrative time on the number of coaches," Karn said.
Beginning this season, pitchers will only be allowed to throw a maximum of 105 pitches in a given day at the varsity level and 85 pitches at lower levels. Those who throw the maximum number of pitches will be required to rest for a minimum of three days.
The duty of tracking the pitches will fall either on coaches or an extra player on the bench. However, those doing the charts will have to be diligent, as a violation of the policy will result in stiff consequences.
The first offense of the pitch count rule will result in the game being forfeited and the head coach being censored. The second violation results in a forfeit and the head coach being suspended.
"They are not only insisting that you keep count, but at the end of the inning you have to consult the other team and agree on the number of pitches," Karn said.
Karn said that while a large majority of coaches have the kids' best interest in mind, the pitch count takes the guesswork out of the equation.
"In 47 years coaching, I've had only one pitcher that told the truth," Karn said. "I pitched myself, when the coach said to me 'how's your arm,' I always said 'fine," Karn said.
St. Cloud State baseball coach Pat Dolan said he is in favor of limiting the number of pitches high schoolers throw before getting to college.
"I love it, I really love it," Dolan said. "The big thing is with the power pitchers, when you get guys like Reese Gregory and Sheldon Miks they can throw a little bit more, but when it's not 85-90 degrees out no one should be throwing that many pitches."
"To be honest with you, I wouldn't mind having (regulations) at the college level," Dolan said.
"I think most of us college coaches keep an eye on it, but every once in a while you get a kid like (Dalton) Roach from Mankato that threw 181 pitches against us (in the playoffs)."
"You hate to do that, but sometimes you gotta play the game to win, too."