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Every Pitch Counts


(From the September 3 Science World.)

What's the most important baseball stat this season? For many young pitchers, it's the number of balls they're allowed to hurl across home plate. That's because Little League Baseball has set a limit on how many pitches players can throw, depending on their age.

"The pitch-count-rule is in place to prevent young arms from overuse," says Chris Downs with the Little League Baseball organization. Since throwing a pitch is not a natural arm motion, over-pitching can result in a torn ulnar collateral ligament. Surgery to replace this piece of tissue, which holds together the ulna and humerus arm bones at the elbow, has been on the rise for high-school pitchers over the last 12 years.

Pitchers that overuse their arm are 36 times more likely to need surgery. The new pitch-count regulation will hopefully help young players stay healthy and off the operating table.

—Tara Bruno