Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander believes that the significant number of pitchers who have sustained injuries already this season is due to coddling that occurs in the minor leagues, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN.com.
Verlander was discussing a spring training start when the subject shifted to the number of recent injuries to players at his position. Verlander shared his view that the reason for this development was that those pitchers make it through the minor league system without facing any significant strain.
"You know, I've got my theories on that," Verlander said. "I think baseball coddles guys so much now that you delay the inevitable. I think the reason you see so many big leaguers blowing out at a young age is because they would have done it before."
"But now teams limit pitch counts so much, even at the major league level, that now a guy in his second or third year will pop, when it would have happened in the minors. Before...I think you kind of weeded that out. Then, guys would have surgery [in the minor leagues]."
Verlander is regarded by many as exceptional for his workload and performance since entering the major leagues. He ranks No. 1 in games started, pitches thrown and pitches per start since 2007. He has never spent a day on the disabled list as a major league player.
Since 2007, he is one of three pitchers, along with James Shields and Mark Buehrle, who have thrown 200 or more innings every year. In 10 career seasons, Verlander has a 3.53 ERA, a 152-89 record in 289 games and 1,830 strikeouts.
MLB pitchers who have had surgeries or injuries in recent weeks include Zack Wheeler and Josh Edgin of the Mets, Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish, Cliff Lee of the Phillies, Cleveland pitcher Gavin Floyd and Tim Collins of the Royals.
Dr. Glenn Fleisig, a research doctor at Dr. James Andrews' American Sports Medicine Institute, said that Verlander's accomplishments and attributes should be regarded as unique, and that most injuries should be blamed on fatigue.
Fleisig added that research had helped develop methods to improve players' mechanics and stave off injury — but that those developments have not eliminated the risks.
"I share everyone's frustration with the number of injuries out there," said Fleisig. "That bothers me. We've made a lot of progress scientifically, but there's a lot more to be done. It's led to more pitchers pitching with more velocity, but it's also led to more pitchers being pushed beyond the body's limits."