Column: Midseason concerns arise about new pitch-count rule

NEW ULM — In asking New Ulm Cathedral baseball coach Bob Weier about his stance on the 105 pitch-count limit put into place this season by the Minnesota State High School League, it is clear that he is not a big fan of the change.

“I question it,” Weier said Friday prior to his game against Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman. “There are a number of factors and the first factor is that a few years ago [the MSHSL] took the first week away of our conditioning. And now because of that we are asking kids to pitch after two weeks of throwing in the gym. Most of the time you have one or two outdoor practices because of the weather. Most coaches will say that you have a short pitch count early in the season but they do allow a kid to throw those 105 pitches after throwing for just two weeks.”

Weier also said that the rest period between starts is not long enough.

“You ask a kid to throw 90 or 105 pitches and three days rest is not enough after they do that,” Weier said. “You have major league pitchers who throw 100 pitches and they have been in spring training for six or seven weeks. They are given four days off between starts and those guys are studs. But we are asking high school kids for a three day rest period — that is not enough.”

The other thing that concerns Weier is when a kid throws 6 1/3 innings and the pitcher has reached his 105 pitch limit. Having to take him out at that point is not something he is a fan of.

“You make a pitching change in the middle of an inning,” Weier said. “I do not believe that most of the pitchers that you bring in are properly warmed up because they have been playing another position and so that also enters into the equation.”

Many coaches felt that the new pitch count rule was not needed. Weier agrees with that to a point.

“I think that was probably needed for a certain amount of coaches who did not follow pitch count,” he said. “The idea is good but I just don’t agree totally with all of the guidelines as far as the rest period and the number of pitches.

“It would be better if in the first two weeks of the regular season the pitch count should be 75 in a game and then gradually increase it as the season goes on like they did for the playoffs.”

When it comes to playoffs, Weier said he would like for there to be no limit on pitch count at all.

“At that point of the season the kids have been throwing for around 12 weeks — their arms should be in shape — and the weather is warmer,” he said. “It is going to hinder performances in the state tournament because you are not going to see the best pitchers throwing championship games.”

Another aspect of high school baseball, especially early in the season in Minnesota, is the cold temperatures that some games are played in and can lead to sore arms later on in the season.

“In our conference there is kind of a gentleman’s agreement that the temperature has to be a certain degree and also take into consideration the conditions such as the windchill factor,” Weier said. “It can be a nice 40-degree day if the sun is shining and there is no wind. In the same sense it can be cloudy on a 55-degree day and the wind is going 20 miles an hour and the windchill factor is 32 degrees.”

If there was a change that Weier would like to see made in high school baseball it would be a simple one.

“I would like to see that first week of practice that they took away be restored — start a week sooner,” he said. “The doctors, the trainers, the people in the know tell you that it takes the high school player between six-to-eight weeks for them to get their arm in shape and that is if he has not run into some problems. Then the kids are in shape by the third week of April. Now it is May before their arms are in shape.”

STEEL TRYOUT CAMP SET: The New Ulm Steel NA3HL team will be holding tryouts for the 2017-18 season from 12:15 to 1:45 p.m. on Saturday Aug. 12, and again that afternoon from 4:15 p.m to 5:45 p.m. and from 9:15 to 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 13 at the New Ulm Civic Center. Anyone who is interested can contact head coach Andrew Kolb at 419-779-2006 or email him at andrew@nusteelhockey.com.

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