From The Onion:

CINCINNATI—Within just a few minutes of Cuban pitcher Aroldis Chapman’s arrival in the United States, Reds manager Dusty Baker had already overused and mangled the 21-year-old’s arm beyond recognition, team sources reported Sunday. Baker, who has been accused of overtaxing young pitchers’ arms in the past, reportedly greeted Chapman with a bucket of 250 baseballs and told him to “hurl them” as fast as he could, later encouraging the fastballer to “go nuts” with his pitching style. “He didn’t even let me stretch out first,” Chapman told reporters through an interpreter. “And when I started to wince from the pain and soreness, he just gave me a thumbs up, winked, and told me to keep throwing.” At press time, Chapman had already been to the hospital for an oblique strain, a torn rotator cuff, and his second Tommy John surgery of the week.

20 Responses

  1. Deaner

    HA! I was thinking about something like the last week. Chapman is used to his own training methods which probably includes throwing A LOT, probably all year. It seems like when players like this move to MLB, their “million-dollar arms” are babied, they are told to throw less (maybe stop throwing totally in the off-season) and thus open themselves up for injuries.

    I’m an old-school baseball guy, so I’ll point to guys like Bob Feller and Satchel Page. Who knows how many pitches these guys threw in their lifetimes… nobody, because they didn’t keep track. They threw until they finished a game and they threw during the offseason while barnstorming.

    More recently, I remember Daisuke Matsuzaka blaming the Red Sox training program for his injuries. He claimed that he needed to thrown more to keep his arm strong and healthy and the Red Sox wouldn’t allow that.

    • pinson343

      Deaner: HA! I was thinking about something like the last week. Chapman is used to his own training methods which probably includes throwing A LOT, probably all year. It seems like when players like this move to MLB, their “million-dollar arms” are babied, they are told to throw less (maybe stop throwing totally in the off-season) and thus open themselves up for injuries.I’m an old-school baseball guy, so I’ll point to guys like Bob Feller and Satchel Page. Who knows how many pitches these guys threw in their lifetimes… nobody, because they didn’t keep track. They threw until they finished a game and they threw during the offseason while barnstorming.

      The replies to Deaner make sense, but the fact remains that how often/long you can pitch depends on what your arm is accustomed to.
      If you go back to the Dead Ball era, the starting pitcher would pitch 18 innings if the game went that long. There was a famous pitching duel between Babe Ruth and Walter Johnson, Ruth’s Red Sox won in 16 innings, both pitchers went all 16. Pitchers would routinely pitch both ends of a doubleheader. And not all of them were soft tossers, even by today’s standards – it’s believed that Johnson threw in the high 90’s.

      One difference then was that pitchers threw almost all fastballs, with an occasional curve ball (or spitter) mixed in. Throwing a large repertoire of breaking pitches is tough on a pitcher’s arm.

      As of the 70’s most starters still pitched on 3 days rest, that was the norm. For a good pitcher, 20 or so complete games was expected. Now they’re used to 4 days rest and pitching 7 innings, so pitching on 3 days rest or a CG are a big deal.

      A very young still-developing arm is a completely different matter. Litttle League kids were ruining their arms throwing curve balls or pitching too much. I understand that curve balls are banned in LL now, and noone pitches more than an inning a game. That’s how it should be.

  2. David Kaiser

    not funny!it could happen watch.either that or he will be brought up to replace bailey or cueto when thier arms breakdown from miss use.just ask harrang about that.

  3. ramrod

    Haha, man I love the Onion. A toothpick reference is the only way it could’ve been better.

  4. hoosierdad

    The sad part about satire is that in order for it to be funny there must be a kernel of truth to it. Let’s hope the new pitching coach can have some positive influence with Dusty (I love WT) Baker.

  5. nick in va

    @Deaner: Any idea how common arm injuries were back when Feller and Paige were pitching? I do recall ready a study about high school kids pitching too much. That’s probably not the same though.

  6. Travis G.

    Pitchers didn’t go all out on every pitch (or every inning!) back in the old days. They have to now.

  7. Deaner

    @nick in va:

    Nick, I’m not sure about how the commonality of arm injuries from the days of Feller and Paige compare to today. It just seems like the great pitchers of the game, even as recent as the 1970s and 80s, talk about the act of throwing a lot during the season and offseason as their method of staying healthy, increasing stamina, and warding off injuries and surgeries. I don’t know if there is any data to back this up.

  8. Deaner

    @Travis G.:

    Good point. A guy like Feller might be going at 75% for the first few innings just because he knew he’d be in there at the end of the game to finish. Pitchers today have no assurance that they’ll be on the mound at the end of the game and most likely they won’t, so why save the energy.

  9. JasonL

    @Deaner: Arm injuries were much more common in the olden days. There have always been guys like Randy Johnson or whoever who could throw a ton of pitches without hurting themselves. They are the exception, not the rule that’s why lots of them are in the hall of fame. Also, it takes more pitches, on average, to get through a game now than it did in the earlier times of baseball. I can’t remember the exact numbers, but I remember reading something along the lines of seven innings today taking about as many pitches as nine innings did in the 1970s.

  10. Travis G.

    The level of competition just wasn’t the same in the old days.

    Some of the best players in the world were officially excluded until 1947 and unofficially for another generation. Some teams didn’t bother identifying or developing foreign-born players until fairly recently. Legal methods of training and conditioning have improved substantially — to say nothing of the illegal enhancements. Gloves and shoes are dramatically better than the equipment players used 25-30 years ago, and the fields are maintained much better than they were before the wave of new ballparks was built. The amount of data that informs managers’ and players’ in-game decisions wouldn’t be possible without modern computers and video technology.

    All of these things have conspired to make it harder for pitchers to take it easy on any part of the lineup or any portion of the game, and the amount of money at stake for everyone — from owners and their TV partners to players and managers to the ticket-buying public — makes every pitch count more than they used to.

  11. JasonL

    @pinson343: It sort of depends on what your accustomed to and it sort of doesn’t. There is plenty of research out there indicating, for example, that a four man rotation is still totally reasonable. There is also a mountain of data that says throwing more than a certain amount of pitches per outing leads to many, many more injuries. This was as true 50 years ago as it is today. Especially of concern are “high stress” pitches (runners on and whatnot) that seem to lead to more damage than low stress pitches.

    Also, if you look through the majors, there are always a handful of pitchers who consistently throw a lot of pitches without any apparent damage. Harang and Arroyo have actually been pretty good examples of this (excluding the relief outing a few years ago that pushed Harang off the tracks).

    However, what is also apparent, and what some people try to sweep under the rug is that there are some pitchers who are apparently, not built to throw 120 pitches every five days, no matter how they condition. Sixty years ago, for example, Pedro would not have been likely to have the career he had because he would have been overused to the point of destruction.

    You do make a note about young pitchers developing, and I think that’s a good point, but it’s also important to realize, that most men are still developing well into their twenties, so, early on, it’s probably a good idea to play it safe in general and watch how things develop for af ew years, even in the majors, before you really set a pitcher loose.

    Last, throwing up hall of famers as examples, really doesn’t help anything. For every hall of famer, there are plenty who were “never quite the same” after pitching 15 innings or whatever. Of course Walter Johnson didn’t break down. If he had, we wouldn’t know who he was.

    Also, I’ll just emphasize one more time, that the number of pitches pitchers throw over the course of the season has not changed a ton, it just takes more to get through innings.

  12. Luke Price

    I think Aroldis could get hurt if he does that again,but I like Dusty Baker. Ibet they did that a lot in the 1940-1980.

  13. hoosierdad

    Reds just resigned Burton to avoid arbitration to a one-year deal. Good to see the pitching staff staying together. The Reds are going to be contenders this year. Not saying they are going to win the division or even the wildcard. But they will stay contenders for the better part of the season.

  14. Zblakey

    Hopefully the bullpen is a strength – it better be or we are in big time trouble

  15. Mark in CC

    @Deaner: Jim Kaat, one of the good pitching coaches the Reds let get away once said, “More arms are hurt by rust than than wear.” Pitchers aren’t conditioned to throw manymore.

  16. pinson343

    @JasonL: “Last, throwing up hall of famers as examples, really doesn’t help anything. For every hall of famer, there are plenty who were “never quite the same” after pitching 15 innings or whatever.”
    Hall of Famers has nothing to do with my argument, though I referred to a famous pitching duel.

    If you go back far enough, ordinary starting pitchers would pitch 400+ innings a season. A starting pitcher was expected to throw complete games, and pitch often. There’s no evidence I know of that pitchers had shorter careers then.

    You could argue that so much has changed since the Dead Ball era, why even mention it. The point is that as baseball has evolved, starting pitchers have pitched less and less. They haven’t pitched less because of the fear of injuries, they’ve pitched less as deeper pitching staffs, with relief specialists of different kinds, have developed to make life tougher on hitters.

    This evolution has also resulted in starters who can’t pitch as many innings in a season as the old timers, mainly due to the obvious reason that their arm, body, etc. isn’t accustomed to it.