Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Texas Rangers [Print without images]

Thursday, August 14, 2014
Yu Darvish's arm issues tied to workload?

By Calvin Watkins

Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish talked about the state of pitching during the All-Star break and how pitcher's are used. The normally guarded Darvish was pointed in his remarks and made sense on quite a few levels.

Darvish mentioned how several Japanese pitchers who sign contracts to play in the big leagues develop arm injuries for a variety of reasons, whether it’s throwing a bigger baseball in the U.S., the mound surfaces, types of pitches thrown -- particularly cutters and sliders -- and the workload.

In Japan, pitchers throw once a week. Here in America, pitchers throw every five days and sometimes on three days rest.

Darvish had been able to avoid arm injuries in his three seasons -- until now. Darvish has right elbow inflammation and an MRI will determine if it’s more serious than that.

After replaying his comments from last July, you kinda of felt he saw this coming.

“I think everybody has a hard time maintaining their health, and everyone has a risk of getting injured,” Darvish said to Japanese reporters during the All-Star break. “It depends on how you lower the risk of getting injured. I think it is becoming to the age where the individual has to take care of their own body. I think that is the difference-maker.”

The increases of Tommy John surgeries in baseball has many scared about the future of pitching. Old-school pitchers pitched through arm soreness; today they shut you down.

Darvish told the Rangers he could have pitched through the tightness in his elbow, but the team decided against it because, let’s be honest, there’s nothing to play for here.

General manager Jon Daniels said the team hasn’t discussed shutting Darvish down the rest of the year. If he returns following his 15-day stint on the DL he could have seven starts left on normal four days rest.

Is it worth pitching him at all?

“I mean we’re real premature on that. Let’s get the MRI and see,” Daniels said. “I don’t think that’s where his head is and where our head is.”

The workload might have something to do with the arm issues in baseball, particularly with pitchers coming here from overseas. Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka also is out with arm problems. Darvish has avoided injuries for the most part, but Tanaka didn’t, and he was going on five and six days rest at times during the 2014 season.

“It's way too short,” Darvish said then of the rest between starts. “That's why they have pitch-count limitations, but pitch count doesn't have much to do with it. You could throw 120 pitches, 140 pitches and have six days rest and the inflammation on the ligament will all be healed. So I think that's it.”

The Rangers are taking a measured approach with Darvish's injury. And no one wants to think about the idea of Tommy John surgery, with so many pitchers already going under the knife this season.

Increasing the number of pitchers is one idea, but it's something the owners might not want because rosters and payrolls would increase. But more pitchers means less time on the mound, and it might help curtail arm injuries.

"It's such a waste (of talent)," Darvish said of pitchers undergoing Tommy John surgery. "The top brass of organizations should protect them. I think doing so (adding more pitchers) would (be) profitable, so they should talk about it."