The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

High School Sports

April 6, 2014

Area coaches keep close watch on pitch counts

PENDLETON — Local baseball coaches are becoming more cognizant of keeping their pitchers' arms healthy.

Travis Keesling, second-year coach at Pendleton Heights High School, said he keeps a strict pitch count on his pitchers. The number of pitches depends on several things, including age.

"We won't let freshman pitchers throw more than 50 or 60 pitches," Keesling said. "Our older, varsity pitchers at the beginning of the year we'll let throw about 80."

As the year goes on, the pitch count might climb for some of the pitchers but, he said, 100 pitches is the limit.

Keesling said he and his staff take the players' safety very seriously. He said he decided to track pitch counts after hearing from several pitching experts that it was a good idea for players' health.

While he said he wants to win as many games as he can, he said he won't try to win at the expense of his pitchers and jeopardize their futures.

"A lot of our guys have aspirations to play at the next level," Keesling said. "We want to win, but we're not going to try and win at all costs."

Compounding the headache of trying to keep track of all the pitch counts is the fact that almost all of Keesling's pitchers play another position when they're not on the mound. He said that makes things tricky when trying to set up a rotation schedule.

"If we have a doubleheader I might have them play in the field first and then pitch the second game," he said, "or have them play on the right side of the infield."

The two right side positions, second base and first base, make fewer throws and typically don't have to throw the ball as far, making them better for a player's arm.

Follow Zach Osowski on Twitter @Osowski_THB, or call 640-4847.

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