Lester: Former Cubs pitcher says IHSA pitch count only part of equation

A former Chicago Cubs pitcher and baseball analyst is applauding a recent Illinois High School Association decision to limit the number of pitches high school baseball players can throw per game.

But Dave Otto says it's only part of the equation to give young arms the necessary rest to prevent injuries.

“There are kids who play for American Legion teams in addition to their high schools, who are attending these pitching camps and (clinics) at the same time,” said Otto, who lives in Wheaton. “It'll be tough to regulate at first.”

The limitations, approved by the IHSA earlier this month and effective in 2017, drop a player's maximum pitches in a game from 115 to 105. In addition, players will have required rest days, based on the numbers of pitches they throw. Those who throw between 76 and 105 pitches must take four days off and can't make more than 90 pitches during the next time they throw that week.

<h3 class="leadin">'Proof is with the Cubs'

IHSA officials said in a news release they're working on a system for schools to submit pitch counts online, so opposing coaches can be on the same page.

“Limiting pitch counts is going to be especially effective in keeping kids' arms healthy later in the season,” Otto said. “The proof is with the Cubs. I thought Joe Maddon did a great job giving pitchers rest.”

<h3 class="leadin">Pence in town Friday

Wheaton resident and Republican fundraiser Lisa Wagner is organizing a lunch Friday in Chicago to be headlined by Vice President-elect Mike Pence. According to the email invitation sent by Wagner to a number of local Republicans, the host committee includes GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner, U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam of Wheaton and Illinois GOP Chair Tim Schneider of Bartlett. Tickets to the 11 a.m. Chicago Club event start at $2,700 per person and go as high as $33,400 per couple who sign up as co-chairs. The fundraiser supports the Republican National Committee.

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U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, a Hoffman Estates Democrat, will join the U.S. Senate in January. Associated Press Photo

Veterans group hopeful

A private-public partnership of veteran and military service organizations believes U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth's election to the U.S. Senate will help it expand outside the Chicago area. Illinois Joining Forces' executive director Ken Barber, of Lake Forest, tells me the organization has already worked with Duckworth to connect veterans and their families to available medical and other services.

Duckworth's election coincides with Illinois Joining Forces' expansion to downstate Belleville, which Barber describes as having a large population of veterans but limited local resources.

“This is very exciting because it's almost like we're growing with congresswoman Duckworth,” Barber said, adding that the Hoffman Estates Democrat - a disabled veteran and former director of the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs - has an excellent handle on the gaps in service around the state.

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Michael Madigan and Elaine Nekritz talk during a pension committee hearing. Associated Press Photo

Replacing Madigan?

Two suburban Democrats' names are being mentioned in political circles as considering runs for Illinois House speaker against Michael Madigan. State Rep. Scott Drury of Highwood told WTTW Channel 11 he'd consider it, but state Rep. Elaine Nekritz of Northbrook dismissed the rumors as a “scheme” by GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner and his allies to divert attention from the lack of a state budget. “The only people floating my name are Republicans,” Nekritz told me.

<h3 class="leadin">Salvi matriarch dies

The matriarch of the Salvi family died Dec. 21, just four days shy of her 86th birthday. Marita Salvi, of Crystal Lake, was the mother of eight, including former state Rep. Al Salvi, of Wauconda, and current state Rep. Barb Salvi of Crystal Lake, as well as the grandmother of 40 and great-grandmother of seven.

<h3 class="leadin">Journeys remembers

Journeys The Road Home in Palatine held a ceremony late last week to honor suburban homeless people who have died over the last year. Advocates say many did not have a service at the time of their death.

<h3 class="leadin">Reflections and thanks

As we barrel into 2017, I want to thank you all for making a point to read this column and for your tips, thoughtful calls and emails - and even the occasional piece of anonymous mail. It's a joy getting to cover the area where I was born and raised. Blessings to you and your families in the year ahead.

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