Monday, April 09, 2007
Raising a Red Flag....
Amateur pitching prospect Yu-Hsun Chen tore the MCL (ulnar collateral ligament) in his throwing elbow recently. Although not a top-flight prospect, Chen was good enough to be on the 2006 junior national team that played in Cuba and performed well in the 2006 Sadaharu Oh Cup. In Cuba, Chen made an appearance in 3 games, throwing 5.1 shutout innings to go along with 7 K's and 1 walk. Chen was also credited with the win versus the Italian junior NT. The 17 year old was a candidate to represent the junior NT again in this year's Asian Junior Baseball Championships.
The story on Chen is that despite being diagnosed with the MCL tear, he was told by his coach to take pain-killers and continue to pitch. Hearing that made me cringe, as Chen most likely will need to have Tommy John surgery to repair his damaged elbow. Although some MCL tears can be caused by a traumatic event (poor mechanics - insufficient warm-up phase), the tear can also occur gradually from repetitive stress (overuse) of the ligament. Hearing about some of the throwing sessions that these HS kids go through, makes me think that Chen's injury was a result of the latter mechanism of injury. This brings into question the training methods the kids in Taiwan undergo. In addition, it isn't uncommon for coaches to succumb to the pressures of winning and thus overutilize their star pitchers. Without a doubt, the health and future prospects of a kid should always be priority #1. Unfortunately, we see the opposite phenomenon occur and it is no wonder why so many of our star pitchers have suffered significant arm injuries in their young career.