After setting the world on fire in his first two years in Major League Baseball, New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey has had a string of injuries, beginning with a torn UCL in 2013 that required Tommy John Surgery and took him off the mound for the entire 2014 season. Since returning from that elbow reconstruction, Harvey has gone from good to bad to worse, struggling with command issues, velocity, and physical ailments — including one that was diagnosed as thoracic outlet syndrome and sent him to the operating table for the second time in his brief MLB career.
It could be argued that Harvey could have avoided the thoracic outlet syndrome surgery that included removal of one of his ribs — but we won’t get into that (we already did, last July, in the episode Elbow Bone Spurs and Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Explained)
Matt Harvey’s latest malady — a stress injury to the scapula bone (shoulder blade) may seem rare and mysterious, but pitching motion troubleshooter Angel Borrelli connects the dots to explain how and why the injury occurred, and what Harvey can do to return to his ace form. As it turns out, Harvey’s shoulder injury most likely occurred because of a flaw in his pitching mechanics — a specific flaw that Angel pinpoints. Even if you are not interested in Matt Harvey’s shoulder injury, if you coach baseball pitchers, you’ll want to know the warning signs and what led to the injury.
Additionally, Angel answers a listener’s question regarding forearm pain and the ball being too close to the ear during the pitching motion — an incorrect and dangerous movement that is taught by some people who don’t understand how the body works. Unfortunately, there are some baseball pitching instructors who believe that keeping the baseball close to the ear is a good way to develop more fastball velocity. However, when such a motion is attempted, pitchers often wind up with a sore arm — specifically, a sore forearm. That soreness can lead to forearm tightness, which, in turn, can result in elbow inflammation or worse — a damaged ulnar collateral ligament (UCL). As you know, a torn UCL will send a baseball pitcher to a surgeon who performs Tommy John Surgery. Not good.
So that’s the show for this week, we hope you learn something that you can take to the baseball field and help your pitchers stay healthy, injury-free, and get to the next level. As always, if you have a question about baseball pitching mechanics, conditioning, training, injuries, or anything else related to coaching pitchers, email us or tweet us @fixingpitchers. We will do our best to answer your question — both directly and, if you don’t mind, on an upcoming episode. Please let us know if you’re OK with mentioning your name, the school or team you coach, and your location. This show is for you and all the other baseball coaches out there who are dedicated to keeping pitchers safe.
While you’re waiting for the next episode to be published, you should consider visiting Angel’s website, GymScience.com, where there is a ton of information on baseball pitching.