Thursday, December 11, 2008

Response to News Media on Cheng-Hao Wang...

It seems as if this post on Wang has riled up some people in Taiwan with claims that my post was irresponsible and "fabricated" after witnessing Wang throw a CG shutout on Wednesday. The information in my post was obtained from multiple sources including MLB scouts and reputable fans.

One thing people have to remember is that all UCL tears are not alike - usually the tear/sprain is graded I, II, or III (a grade III sprain is a complete tear of the UCL). The method of injury is usually gradual (in many cases in Taiwan - from being overworked). The severity of the injury can only be determined from an MRI, which is no cheap procedure, especially with the socialistic health care system in Taiwan. If a MLB team is truly interested in Wang, then he'll have to pass a standard physical in order to avoid the unfortunate Hsin-Hong Tsai fiasco. To date, Wang has not had an MRI examination of his elbow.

Also it is commonly seen in Taiwan that pitchers continue to throw in games despite suffering from some pretty severe injuries. Former Qiang-Shu ace RHP Yu-Hsun Chen had a complete UCL tear (he had TJ surgery last year) and his HS head coach Hsiao told him to take pain meds and still throw in a tourney. In one of the games, he pitched a CG as well - but alas with no velocity (he was throwing in the low 70's but was able to get by with his superb control and command). Here's another example: a few years back former Boras rep Kyle Chung brought then 19 year old RHP Chin-Wei Yu to the US for a showcase. Yu was throwing 92-94 in every outing and attracted the attention of many MLB scouts until he heard a pop resulting in severe elbow pain with swelling. He continued to pitch and in his next outing, although he topped out at 91 mph, he was at sitting at 84-85 after a steroid injection. He pretty much had suffered a complete tear of his UCL and unfortunately did not choose to have reconstructive surgery. He was never was the same again. He later switched agents and was represented by agents Adam Chang and Jerry Sung and came back to the US for a showcase as a 22 year old with a severely damaged UCL - he again topped out at 91 mph but sat at 86-88 mph. He never did receive an offer.

The bottom line is that a lot of these kids are being overworked (Shi-Yuan sidearmer Po-Chen Chi, who is usually a reliever, stated that he was very sore after the 4th inning in yesterday's 8 inning outing. After the 6th inning, he said he couldn't even feel his arm - Even his high school coach said that Chi has a history of injuries back in junior high school and was used mainly as a reliever with a much lower pitch count over the past 2 years in high school.) Something needs to be done about protecting these kids' arms and safeguarding their future. This is a serious matter with no resolution in sight. A strict pitch count needs to be implemented - but how do you go about changing the mindset of coaches who might not have the kids' best interest at heart?

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