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posted: 5/19/2014 5:30 AM

Why do pitchers keep getting injured?

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  • White Sox ace left-hander Chris Sale, who is on the disabled list with a flexor injury to his throwing arm, is due back soon. Chris Rongey recommends that you enjoy watching Sale pitch for as long as he can.

      White Sox ace left-hander Chris Sale, who is on the disabled list with a flexor injury to his throwing arm, is due back soon. Chris Rongey recommends that you enjoy watching Sale pitch for as long as he can.
    Associated Press

 
 

At some point this week, the White Sox will celebrate the return of Chris Sale to a pitching rotation that desperately needs him.

Although some of the work turned out by the starting staff has been strong, the results have been mostly inconsistent -- especially since Sale left for the disabled list last month.

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As has been broadly discussed this season, the Sox aren't the only team with the same problem. All you have to do is take a look around Major League Baseball and you'll find some of the best pitchers and players on the DL and missing significant time -- many in their low-to-mid 20s.

Jose Fernandez, Jarrod Parker, Kris Medlin and Anibal Sanchez are just a few of the guys that have recently dealt with, or are currently dealing with, some kind of arm problems. And that hardly scratches the surface.

Sale's flexor injury is discouraging because it is the same injury that Gavin Floyd suffered, as did Daisuke Matsuzaka. Both eventually needed Tommy John surgery.

Many smart people have examined the issue of elbow and shoulder injuries to pitchers and the possible causes. What we can gather from all the research and speculation is that there is not yet a consensus on the root of the problem.

Guys are throwing harder than they used to and kids are throwing far too much and too often. Those seem to be the likeliest of the potential culprits, though there's not a definitive answer at this point. I think evntually we will learn that it probably is.

Last week, MLB announced its committee to find a replacement for retiring Commissioner Bud Selig and acknowledged one of the jobs that person will be charged with is finding a way to curtail injuries to pitchers -- in particular injuries to the ulnar collateral ligament (the one that requires Tommy John surgery).

I'm encouraged that baseball has decided to invest some real money and effort into finding a solution, but I'm aware that it will be many years before any real change will happen.

That's no fault of Major League Baseball, it's just that by the time we're confident we have an answer, there will likely have to be an entire paradigm shift that will take time to implement. It may just be that change will have to begin with future major-leaguers while they're still Little Leaguers.

If this is baseball's reality, it will probably be so for a while. Therefore, we might as well settle in and come to terms with the fact that we're living in a constant state of anxiety that our favorite pitchers will eventually find their way to the DL. Maybe even for an entire season or more.

So, what can we do about it? Well, nothing.

Don't even think about losing Chris Sale to another sore elbow. Just enjoy watching him pitch for as long as you have him, because who knows? Maybe we will all have worried for nothing.

Eventually, baseball will have this figured out. I hope.

• Chris Rongey is the host of the White Sox pregame and postgame shows on WSCR 670-AM The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @ChrisRongey and at chrisrongey.com.

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