Local coaches support the change –
Story and photo by Mark Carpenter –
A rule that has always caused much thought and discussion from Little League to Major League Baseball will come to fruition in the spring of 2017 for baseball teams in the state of Ohio. After a vote of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) last month, high school baseball rules will now require a pitch restriction policy based on the number of pitches thrown in a game.
The number of young pitchers who have seen themselves go under the knife for arm, elbow, or shoulder surgery has increased dramatically in recent years, and this rule change is aimed at reducing those numbers.
The following is an excerpt from the NFHS press release:
The revised pitching policy in Rule 6-2-6 was one of six rules changes approved by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Baseball Rules Committee at its June 5-7 meeting in Indianapolis. The rules changes were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.
Each NFHS member state association will be required to develop its own pitching restriction policy based on the number of pitches thrown during a game to afford pitchers a required rest period between pitching appearances.
“We’re pleased that the rules committee worked in conjunction with the NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee to find an acceptable and reasonable modification to this rule in order to emphasis the risk that occurs when pitchers overuse their throwing arm,” said Elliot Hopkins, NFHS director of sports and student services and staff liaison for baseball.
Local baseball coaches seemed to be in line with the new rule, as some have already had their pitchers on pitch counts.
“I like the idea of a pitch count as a way to limit the overuse of pitchers,” said North Adams head baseball coach Rob Meade. “As a coach I have always tried to play close attention to pitch counts when making decisions at the various levels-varsity, JV and middle school. It will be important for youth league coaches to follow something similar so that athletes entering high school have not been overused.
It should be noted here that the local Knothole league, the Southern Hills Youth Baseball League, used a pitch count restriction this past summer.
Peebles head baseball coach Scott Lovett was not shocked at all by the passage of the pitch count rule.
“I knew it was only a matter of time before this rule to come about,” says Lovett. “The innings limit is vague when it comes to pitchers. Some kids are throwing two times the amount of pitches over the same span of innings as others. Withe the amount of arm injuries that we are seeing, I think this is a good policy to have.”
Former Manchester baseball coach Kyle Brewer, who is moving to an assistant principal’s position in the North Adams system, also believes that the rule is a good one.
“I personally think it is a good move for the state,” Brewer told the Defender. “Too many injuries have occurred to young pitchers due to overuse of their arm. The innings rule allowed coaches to throw pitchers for an unknown number of pitches, which in turn allowed teams to get by with just one or two good pitchers. With this new rule in place, more strategy will come into play and coaches will need to develop three of four good pitchers for their staff.”
The NFHS also passed rules concerning sliding into home plate and the on-field behavior of players and coaches.
The press release on those two rules states:
The Baseball Rules Committee also revised Rule 2-32-2 regarding sliding into home plate. The revised language states: “At home plate, it is permissible for the slider’s momentum to carry him through the plate in the baseline extended.” The committee altered this rule since the physical design of home plate makes it difficult for a runner to break momentum on a slide – as opposed to the other three elevated bases which are elevated.
The committee also revised Rule 3-3-1, which states the umpire has the ability to give three warnings to a coach or player before he or she is removed from the game.
“Officials now have the opportunity to provide a tiered warning system for coaches or players,” Hopkins said. “It provides the coaches or players with a teachable moment to change their unsportsmanlike behavior in order to stay in the game.”
A complete listing of the baseball rules changes will be available on the NFHS website at www.nfhs.org. Click on “Activities & Sports” at the top of the home page, and select “Baseball.”