Doctors say the rise in arm injuries with MLB pitchers comes from overuse.
All this week, WFUV News is looking at an alarming trend affecting baseball players of all ages, from Little League to Major League Baseball.
Some former big leaguers theorize that today's pitchers aren't throwing enough. They argue that pitch counts and innings limits by Major League baseball teams in the past decade have weakened arms, and led to an increase in arm injuries.
But doctors don't exactly agree. Dr. Frank Jobe performed the first Tommy John surgery on the former pitcher, and before his death earlier this year, he said it is clear what's causing players to get the surgery.
"There's only a limit to how much a [player] can throw," said Jobe on WFUV's sports talk show One-on-One. "[The arm] has to have recovery time."
He isn't alone. Dr. Anthony Scillia is an orthapaedic surgeon at the New Jersey Orthaepedic Institute.
"I think it’s pretty clear that this is seen as an overuse injury and it comes from chronic damage overtime to the [elbow] ligament," said Scillia. "The ligament can’t heal itself, that’s why the surgery is required.”
But with Major League Baseball squads closely monitoring how much pitchers throw, how are athletes overusing their arms and needing Tommy John surgery more often?
Well, while big league clubs can track how much their star players throw, they can't control how much a player throws as a teenager. When an athlete plays year-round with Little League, travel teams, high school baseball, college baseball, the minor leagues, and eventually (if the stars align) the major leagues, doctors say the elbow ligament can eventually wear down and tear.
Tomorrow, WFUV News looks at the rising trend of teen ball players getting Tommy John surgery.