By Matt Wixon , Staff Writer Contact Matt Wixon on Twitter:@mattwixon
ROUND ROCK – The University Interscholastic League has never set pitch limits for baseball players, but a rule is now in the works. The UIL’s medical advisory committee recommended Sunday the adoption of a proposal that limits pitches and requires specific amounts of rest after pitching.
The proposal, which would limit players age 17-19 to 110 pitches in a game and those age 14-16 to 95 pitches in a game, could be adopted in June by the UIL legislative council. But because there are still details to be worked out, it’s more likely to be adopted as a rule for the 2018 season and be a recommendation for next season.
Whenever the limit is adopted, it will add teeth to the UIL’s current pitching rules, which have no restrictions on pitches or innings in a game. The UIL’s only current limit for a pitcher is that he throw no more than 10 innings if pitching in more than one game in a day.
“Nationwide, we are way behind,” said Mark Cousins, the former UIL athletic director and current director of compliance. “All innings are not the same. You can have an inning where you throw eight pitches and you’re out of the inning. You can have an inning where you throw 108 pitches and you’re not out of the inning.”
The proposal, whose authors include Mesquite-based orthopedic surgeon Dr. Cary Tanamachi, North Crowley athletic trainer Valerie Duran and Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association executive director Rex Sanders, will require pitchers who throw more than 85 pitches in a day to rest four days before pitching again. The required days of rest will be less for fewer pitches.
The UIL does not currently require any days of rest between pitching in games, but Cousins, Sanders and Duran emphasized that the vast majority of Texas high school coaches are protective of their pitchers’ arms. But there have been some extreme examples of overuse nationally, including the 194 pitches thrown in a game by a Rochester (Wash.) pitcher two years ago.
A notable Texas example, although from two decades ago, was when Grand Prairie’s Kerry Wood threw 175 pitches while starting two playoff games in the same day in 1995. Wood was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1998 for the Chicago Cubs, but his professional career included three arm surgeries and 16 trips to the disabled list.
Sanders said he hopes that, even if the proposal is only a recommendation for the 2017 season, it will educate parents about how much a player should be pitching.
“We want parents to know that the high school coach is going to take care of your son,” said Sanders, a former coach at A&M Consolidated High School. “But after that, you need to have the information to know that your son, and or your daughter, is being taken care of by that summer-league select coach.”
The UIL does not have limits for softball pitchers, and they are excluded from the current pitch-count proposal.
The medical advisory committee also recommended that the UIL participate in a concussion data collection and study by the Texas Institute for Brain Injury and Repair at UT-Southwestern Medical Center. The recommendation came with the stipulation that all UIL schools would be required to participate, and also that the UIL would have some oversight over the study.
The required rest for baseball pitchers under the proposal that the UIL medical advisory committee has recommended for adoption. (Applies to all ages):
Pitches Days rest