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Colorado H.S. Association Establishes Pitch Count for Baseball Pitchers

Starting in the 2016 season, high school baseball pitchers in Colorado will be subjected to strict limits on the number of pitches they're allowed to throw.

The Colorado High School Athletics Association approved a proposal last week that requires rest days based on the number of pitches a player throws in a day, either in practice or in a game. A varsity pitcher who throws 35 pitches or fewer is not required to have a day of rest; one who throws 36-60 pitches must rest for one day; one who throws 61-85 pitches must rest two days; and one who tosses 86-110 pitches must rest for three days. The current rule restricted pitchers in terms of innings instead of a pitch count; no pitcher is allowed to throw more than 12 innings in three consecutive days.

Under the new policy, any varsity pitcher who throws more than 60 pitches over two days must then rest for one day. Additionally, a pitcher who reaches the 110-pitch threshold during an at-bat may finish off that batter, but must leave the game immediately after retiring the hitter or allowing a hit.

"The overuse of arms, especially young arms, is a real threat to baseball," said Bert Borgmann, assistant commissioner of the state athletics association, to Ryan Casey of CHSAANow.com. "Although CHSAA can't control what outside entities do, it can implement rules to help limit the overuse of arms during the high school season."

The limits are even stricter for sub-varsity players: Those who throw between one and 25 pitches in a day aren't required to have a day of rest; those who throw 26-35 must rest one day, those who throw 36-60 must rest two days; and those who throw 61-85 pitches must rest three days. Sub-varsity pitchers aren't allowed to exceed 85 pitches in a given day, except if they're finishing off a batter (similar to the 110-pitch limit exception in varsity).

According to Kevin Lytle of The Coloradoan, coaches will be responsible for keeping the pitch counts. "A violation will result in a variety of penalties," per Lytle," including potentially keeping a team out of the postseason."

Last fall, Major League Baseball debuted its "Pitch Smart" initiative, which aimed to prevent overuse injuries in youth pitchers by mandating similar pitch counts at each age level. For high school-aged pitchers, MLB recommended mandating one day of rest for pitchers who throw anywhere between 31-45 pitches, two days of rest for 46-60 pitches, three days of rest for 61-75 pitches, and four days of rest for 76 pitches or more. MLB suggested a daily maximum of 95 throws for pitchers between the ages of 15 and 16, and a daily maximum of 105 throws for pitchers between the ages of 17 and 18. The "Pitch Smart" initiative also recommended limiting pitchers to no more than 100 innings annually.

Last April, Dr. James Andrews, one of the most renowned orthopedic sports surgeons in the country, blamed year-round baseball for the rise in pitchers at all levels needing Tommy John surgery.

"These kids are not just throwing year-round, they're competing year-round, and they don't have any time for recovery," Andrews said. He also cited "playing in more than one league at the same time where rules don't count [i.e., pitchers aren't placed on pitch counts or inning limits]" as a major concern.

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