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Mets medical director to be on MLB Network talking TJ surgery

Mets medical director Dr. David Altchek will take part in a roundtable discussion about the rise of pitching-related injuries (SI.com, May 6).

The one-hour special, titled MLB Network Roundtable: The Pitching Dilemma, will air Saturday at 4 p.m. ET and feature a conversation between Bob Costas, Jim Kaat, John Smoltz, Tom Verducci, Altcheck, pitching expert Tom House and Dr. James Andrews.

“The basic thing that parents out there and coaches and players alike need to know is if you throw with fatigue at a young age, you have a 36-to-1 chance of injuring your shoulder or elbow,” Dr. Andrews says during the special. “What we really found out is that [high school patients] only had one week off each year from competitive baseball and that one week was – you could guess what – between Christmas and New Year’s. So they’re playing year-round baseball – that’s the number one risk factor in youth baseball.”

Matt Harvey, Bobby Parnell and Jeremy Hefner all underwent Tommy John surgery during the last year.

In 2014, to date, 15 pitchers, including Parnell, underwent the procedure, which follows 19 in 2013 and 36 in 2012.



Watch a clip from the MLB Network Special at MLB.com




22 comments
Goorru®Mets
Goorru®Mets

Kids always threw a ton of pitches,   they have to figure out what is different now that wasn't happening in previous generations.  Is it just over diagnosis of muscle tears,  did they have muscle tears in the 80's and before and they just pitched though it?   Why is it that every time there is a slight tear now that it's immediately TJ surgery?   Are the doctors scaring pitchers into surgery by telling them if they don't get it now they will miss even more time.

Michael Frias
Michael Frias

The overhand motion is unnatural because of the way the humeral head (the near end of the upper arm bone) fits into the glenoid fossa (the hole in the scapula that allows the shoulder to be formed.

It is natural for survival techniques (killing food, planting, etc.) but not to throw a baseball repeatedly at various speeds and breaks. Underhand is a more gliding motion without the bony obstructions of the upper shoulder girdle. 

flmetsfan
flmetsfan

Perhaps I'm a bit off base here, but I feel that this problem is a manifestation of a situation that starts with parents of ball players when they are kids.  It seems that children these days start in little league and play non stop through their adolescent years through high school and college.  Today, kids are also encouraged to throw breaking pitches before their muscleature is fully developed.  We need throw some of these youth baseball coaches out of the game.

Macacawitz
Macacawitz

I'd guess that there's tremendous pressure on the doctors to find ways to get a player back on the field.   Owners, especially ones like the Wilpons, don't want the surgeon to suggest a month of rest and then a re-evaluation.  They want a return on their investment and not a longer, more cautious approach.  

Not4Nutten
Not4Nutten

David Bone Breaker Altchek is  going to give a seminar of how to screw up a team and get paid for it!!!!

DMA1968
DMA1968

I'm having a hard time understanding why MLB network would want the Mets Medical Director on.  With the Mets' injury history, this is like asking the captain of the Titanic for sailing advice.

Anthony Mastantuoni
Anthony Mastantuoni

Given all of the TJ injuries we are seeing across MLB, you would think MLB and the MLBPA would get together a panel to see what (if) anything can be done to prevent or at least lessen these types of injuries.

Bob G
Bob G

They'd probably be fine on a month off but if you're a doctor getting tens of thousands for a procedure wouldn't you recommend it?

ry110891
ry110891

This should be a good conversation I am interested on what they have to say.  I hope Hefner comes back and is used in the bullpen next year we need to strengthen that bullpen as much as possible

90wins
90wins

@Goorru®Mets  The kids are definitely throwing harder. You can hear it during the Little league world series. Fastballs are getting faster every year. And with all the composite bats with ridiculously wide sweet spots, HS pitchers need to throw harder or "nastier" curve balls.

Goorru®Mets
Goorru®Mets

@Michael Frias  but why are pitchers breaking down more than ever YET throwing less innings and less pitches. 

90wins
90wins

@Macacawitz  Wow, even Tommy John Surgery can be blamed on the Wilpons. It is seriously time for a change of ownership.

cj1786
cj1786

That's because you for some reason (incorrectly) think the Mets injury problems are 1) unique 2) the fault of David Altchek who happens to be one of the top orthopedic surgeons in the country. And since it's about tommy john surgery you might also look into how Altchek is only one if about 3-4 surgeons who perform TJ on major league players. On top of that he invented a modification to the original procedure that cut drastically cut down recovery time which is now widely used in the industry. If you want to remain in the dark about TJ surgery don't watch this program, but I for one would love to here what this guys has to say.

Kenneth Meltsner
Kenneth Meltsner

@DMA1968 Perhaps he could address how Bobby Parnell's neck-issues (remember the 'bad pillow'?) led to Tommy John surgery. Not to mention Jose Reyes and the neverending hammy.

cj1786
cj1786

@Anthony Mastantuoni The likely answer is that the MLB cannot do anything about it, because many medical experts feel that the problems start at a very young age, with the amount of innings these players are throwing as kids.  I've seen the theory (and it makes sense) that its because kids have started to specialize in one sport at and early age now.  Meaning in the past, the best athletes as kids would play baseball in the spring, football in the fall, basketball in the winter etc.  Now, many kids just focus on one sport, and the kids who play baseball now play in the spring, summer, and fall and are putting alot of wear and tear on their arms when they are still developing as teenagers.  If this is in fact a main factor, there is nothing the MLB can really do. 

iamwilpon
iamwilpon

May I suggest something drastic: eliminate the ridiculous putch-count! It's the babying of these pitchers that's at the heart of the problem. There were much less TJ (and other) injuries when pitchers were expected to go 9 innings.

Michael Frias
Michael Frias

@Bob G Not saying it doesn't happen, but it would be highly unethical for a doctor to diagnose a surgical procedure if it wasn't necessary.

And highly idiotic for a team to not get a second opinion.

Michael Frias
Michael Frias

@iamwilpon Regardless of pitch-count, it's  not a new problem.  There were hundreds of pitchers in the 50's, 60's and 70's, that crapped out when TJ could've been an option if it were around then.

cj1786
cj1786

@Michael Frias @Bob GIts the players right to get a second opinion and they ALWAYS do when it comes to a major surgery. 

Bob G
Bob G

@Michael Frias @Bob G  Necessity based on what set of values? If the owner says I want this guy to get surgery tomorrow because I want him ready for opening day next year versus waiting a month and taking a chance on recovery? As with everything it's all about the $$ 

Bob G
Bob G

@cj1786 @Michael Frias @Bob G  Not debating that at all but if you think there's no pressure on them to do what's in the team's interests you're kidding yourself.