Arm injuries in baseball are nothing new, and over the years a narrative has been advanced that the human arm is not meant to throw a baseball. This is balderdash.
The ability to throw is one of the major reasons humans have evolved and ascended to the top of the food chain. It’s science. Or anthropological fact. You don’t have to take my word for it. Read Jeff Passan’s excellent book, “The Arm,” to get the skinny.
Now whilst the throwing motion is a natural movement for us Homo Sapiens, throwing a ball a hundred times a day, as hard as possible, from a variety of positions – both moving and stationary – is another story. Hence the connection between arm injuries and baseball, especially for pitchers.
Recently, this occupational hazard has reached epidemic proportions at all levels of baseball. And what used to be the province of pitchers – ‘arm problems’ – has become a concern for all baseball players.
On that note, the arms of New York Yankees young studs have had a bad couple of weeks.
During the opening series of the 2017 season the Bronx Bombers lost first-year sensation, catcher Gary Sanchez, to a biceps injury that will keep him on the Disabled List for at least a month.
Sanchez hurt his right arm swinging a bat. The injury was so painful that Sanchez, who couldn’t be on the field for Gary Sanchez Bobblehead Day, winced in pain when he took a half-speed, practice swing to test out the arm.
Last week James Kaprielian found out his Ulnar Collateral Ligament snapped. Now if Kaprielian was a Cracker Jack vendor at the stadium, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. But since he’s the Yankees top pitching prospect, a former Number 1 pick in the draft, and a player the organization was counting on to help the big club this season, this is a huge deal.
Photo: 2080 Baseball
The hard-throwing 23 year old righty missed basically all of last season with a flexor tendon injury in his pitching elbow. Once a joint compromised athlete, always a joint compromised athlete. Kaprielian probably won’t see the field until late in the 2018 season, at best.
This week the Yankees ‘can’t miss’ shortstop prospect Gleyber Torres was scratched from theIr Single A line-up due to biceps tendinitis. Details weren’t forthcoming, but it’s never a good thing when a 20 year old kid is scheduled for an MRI on his throwing arm.
And if all of this isn’t bad enough, the Yankees starting shortstop Didi Gregorius hurt his throwing shoulder in the World Baseball Classic and is still two weeks away from returning to play, at best.
Despite all of the coverage of these injuries, there has been nary a mention of how or why these injuries could be occurring. Why would a young player like Sanchez suffer such a severe injury from swinging the bat, a week later another infielder suffer basically the same injury, and their top pitching prospect suffer a potentially (likely) career-changing injury? Add Gregorius’ shoulder to the mix and you have much more than a coincidence.
Questions have to be asked about how the Yankees develop and prepare their players, especially their young players, during the off-season and spring training. There needs to be discussion with regard to how, after off-season training and spring training, 4 young athletes can all suffer arm injuries at the beginning of the season.
Too often baseball injuries are just accepted as an inevitable by-product of playing the game, but when a trend like this presents itself coincidence shouldn’t serve as a valid analysis of the problem.