Pitchers who also played catcher were close to three times more likely to have shoulder or elbow injuries.

High school baseball players who both pitch and catch suffer more injuries than pitchers who play other positions, reports a new study, and it is advice shared by a UofL pediatrician.

Heather Felton, MD, medical director of the UofL Pediatrics – Sam Swope Kosair Charities Centre, advises parents, coaches and providers to be aware of the study’s findings. “Clinicians, coaches and parents can use this information to determine secondary positions for pitchers to decrease injury risk,” she said. “The findings suggest that pitchers should not play catcher as their secondary position, in order to allow adequate time for recovery and to decrease their overall throwing load.”

High rates of shoulder and elbow injuries are common among young pitchers. Nationally, pitchers incur 73 percent of injuries among high school baseball players, and about 10 percent of them require surgery, the researchers noted.

According to the study from the University of Alabama and published online recently in the Journal of Athletic Training, pitchers who also catch are at a nearly three times greater risk of injury, because catchers throw significantly more than other field positions. Monitoring pitch counts is not enough, the study authors said.

Throughout the course of the study, pitchers reported 24 throwing-related shoulder or elbow injuries. Five occurred among pitcher-catchers, an injury rate of nearly 16 percent. Nineteen injuries occurred among pitchers who played another position, but not catcher, for an injury rate of about 5 percent.