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April 3, 2014

Tommy John: pitching year-round bad idea


Dr. Jocelyn Wittstein, an orthopedic surgeon at Bassett Medical Center and friend of John’s, is a researcher on a study that Bassett has been conducting since 2013 that tracks the training habits and injury rates of young baseball players.

While Wittstein says that it is too early to draw many definitive conclusions from the study, which tracks about 1000 kids in local high schools and baseball camps, Wittstein did say that the study had found no correlation between athletes playing multiple sports and an increased injury rate. This is contrary to what Wittstein expected to see, especially in students who play another sport that emphasizes overhand motion, like tennis. Yet, even with sports that utilize similar motions, no increase in the injury rate was found.

While the study has yet to show any benefit to playing multiple sports, Wittstein does not discount the possibility.

“We may find … that’s protective,” said Wittstein, saying that playing multiple sports might serve to prevent overuse in younger athletes by varying the motions they perform, and by strengthening different sets of muscles.

Wittstein says that the study has not yet been able to draw any definitive conclusions on whether playing baseball year-round might increase the risk of injury for young athletes. However, she does suspect that this will turn out to be the case.

“I would hypothesize that year round play would definitely increase injury rates,” said Wittstein.

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