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Posted August 29, 2013
AllSports Medicine and Rays Make Coaches Clinic A Big Hit At Tropicana Field

Tropicana Field is home to one of the best pitching rotations in all of baseball, but Saturday morning the stadium played host to an impressive rotation of a different kind.

Some 40 Little League, travel ball and high school baseball coaches rotated between three  stations, soaking up a wealth of important information, insight and techniques on how to protect young pitching arms at the “Coaches Clinic” – courtesy of AllSports Medicine at All Children’s Hospital and members of the Tampa Bay Rays coaching and training staff.

The free event featured presentations by members of the All Sports Medicine staff (including Dr. Patrick Mularoni, Dr. Carlos Rodriguez and Dr. Drew Warnick, and athletic trainer Ryan Ross) as well as Rays’ All-Star trainer Ron Porterfield and strength/conditioning coordinator Kevin Barr. Their sessions were followed by a Q&A with Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey and a meet-and-greet with rookie standout Wil Myers.

By all signs, the seminar on reducing pitching-related injuries was a hands-down hit.

“This is incredible, just learning how to develop arms and cut down on injuries,” said St. Petersburg-based travel ball coach David Thompson, a travel ball coach for 10-year-olds. “A lot of this stuff reinforces what I already believe, but nevertheless it’s great to hear these presentations and learn more. It’s too bad there aren’t 1,000 people here to hear it. It’s just so important, because some of the little kids won’t be able to play when they’re 18.”

Added Admiral Farragut Academy head trainer Arielle Gaydosh:  “It was really helpful. I especially enjoyed listening to Ron’s presentation, obviously, because he’s an athletic trainer. It was cool to see some of the rehab exercises I could start doing with my kids. But the whole event was amazing. And it was good to have a chance to meet (AllSports Medicine medical director) Dr. Mularoni and some of the other doctors.”

The AllSports presentations were packed with detailed descriptions of what causes physiological problems on the field – and ways they can be avoided. Dr. Mularoni made reference to noted pro sports surgeon Dr. James Andrews and his recent book, Any Given Monday:

“In his book, Dr. Andrews basically called it an epidemic, what our generation is doing to the next generation. Things have changed. Children are specializing in sport at a much, much younger age. Nowadays, you think of the players on your team and many of them just play baseball. If you’re a lacrosse player, you just play lacrosse. If you’re a swimmer, you just swim. And that early specialization on that growing body is not good for that growing body.

“These kids are not taking an off season. When I see these kids in the AllSports medicine clinic and they come in with a shoulder problem, I ask them if they’re a pitcher and when was the last time they didn’t play. They say, ‘Oh, I took two weeks off in August last year.’ I say, ‘No, when’s the last time you didn’t have a season?’ Some of them say, three to five years.”

Dr. Mularoni also identified another factor in the added stress on young arms: “guesting.” That occurs when a player from another team is invited in as a stand-in pitcher, for instance, on a travel ball team playing a heavy schedule. “That kid will go to Orlando on a given weekend and the coach will throw his arm out, and then he’ll come back to you – and you’ve got to use him as well,” he explained. “So guest pitching or catching is a problem.”
Following their talks, Dr. Mularoni and his colleagues answered an array of questions from coaches, and pointed them to the clinic’s Web site: for more information and a bevy of videos from the doctors on a range of sports-related injuries.

Porterfield, meanwhile, was delighted with the event and hopeful it will have an impact.

“This is where it starts – with kids,” he said. “If you can develop some good habits with them, then hopefully those kids will want to stay with it and will play in high school and maybe college – or wherever their talent level takes them. It’s important that they learn to do things the right way here. They’re playing all year long, and you’re seeing a lot more overuse injuries, significant injuries.”

Learning how to strike them out, through educational forums like the Coaches Clinic, is now the name of the game.