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Debate: High school pitch counts

Woodbridge senior Nick Rogowski threw more than 150 pitches in eight innings of an 8-7 victory over Stone Bridge. (John McDonnell, TWP)

In a 10-inning 8-7 victory over Stone Bridge in Wednesday's Let's Play Two Tournament final, Woodbridge senior pitcher Nick Rogowski produced a tremendous performance, facing 44 batters over eight innings while striking out 17 Bulldog hitters. But in doing so, the Catholic-bound right-hander -- who relied heavily on his curveball and slider -- threw a whopping 155 pitches.

When asked about Rogowski's extended early-season outing, Woodbridge Coach Jason Ritenour said:

"I kept asking him when we got to the sixth inning, 'How do you feel?' He said 'I feel fine.' When we got to the eighth, I said. 'Your pitch count is getting up,' and he said, 'I want the ball.' He deserves the ball, so that's why we stuck with him.

"We made the switch [after the eighth inning] because he was approaching 140, 150 pitches -- I haven't checked the chart, but sometimes you can throw that chart out the window. It's what they feel."

What do you think? Is 150+ pitches too many for a high schooler early in the season? Is it too many period? Or should the player have a say in when he comes out of the game if he's continuing to perform and not losing velocity on his pitches?

By Matt Brooks  |  April 1, 2010; 1:27 PM ET
Categories:  Baseball , Stone Bridge High School , Woodbridge  | Tags: Baseball, Stone Bridge, Woodbridge  
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That joker should be fired immediately. Of course the kid wants the ball. All pitchers want the ball. It's your job, as coach of a 17-year-old kid, to say, "Hey, I don't care what you feel, you've thrown far more pitches than most big leaguers ever do. Let's not ruin your career." 155 pitches should never happen.

Posted by: dpmalloy | April 1, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

If this coach still has a job today than the AD should be fired as well. This is horrendous. It's beyond comprehension that a pitcher of ANY age would be allowed to throw this many pitches. It saddens me that this player has aspirations to play in college and he needed an adult to intervene and noone stepped up. This coach is obviously ignorant and he put his own self-interest ahead of the health and interests of his player. David Price, the prized young pitcher for Tampa Bay had a 75 pitch limit in the minors and he was 21 or 22 years old. I guess this coach didn't read the recent W. Post story chronicling the abuse of Kerry Wood by his HS coach? Thank God my son doesn't play for this guy.

Posted by: sjohns58 | April 1, 2010 9:19 PM | Report abuse

As a former Division I pitcher as well as a person who has served as a pitching coach for both high school and college programs, it is very disappointing to read this article.

My senior year in high school I had a summer coach who allowed me to pitch eleven innings and throw more than 180 pitches in 2-1 contest that we finally lost. A year later in college I developed bursitis and I couldn't help but feel that that injury dated back to that particular game. At the time, I begged my coach to keep me in the game. Indeed, I thought I was being a "bulldog" and "tough" because I wanted the ball in that situation. Yet, my coach should have never allowed me to be in that situation despite my desire to win. Above all, a coach at that level must consider the health and well-being of his players. A 75 pitch limit at this point in the season would've been plenty and possibly a 100-110 pitch limit by the end of the season in a championship game, but 155 this early in the season is ridiculous. If professional pitching coaches do not allow their pitchers to throw more than about 90 pitches in March during spring training, why should a high school coach think that an 18 year old who is still physically maturing can throw more than 75 pitches at this point in the season. It is stories like these that governing bodies of high school baseball should consider when thinking about changing the rules from innings pitched to number of pitches. Given my experience, many coaches do monitor pitch counts, but many unfortunately do not. As a result, pitch limits should be instituted so this kind of lunacy does not happen to another kid.

Posted by: rvande01 | April 1, 2010 11:31 PM | Report abuse

What the hell! When I was playing in high school, our coach gave us a 100 pitch limit and we usually never threw that many. He took us out after about 80 pitches. What is wrong with the world today. We have kids throwing curve balls way too early and players being used until they fall.

Posted by: psock1 | April 2, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

LIsten...for u morons who were not actually at the game...the coach practically told him alright we are changing...He stubbornly said i cant come out of this game. I want to keep going. That is an athlete and a fighter. If u were there u would know that the kid looked like he was fine. Sometime certain things can happen on certain days that usually dont. That senior would have given up alot to just win that game. He played great and the coach trusted his the 8th innning the coach did the right thing and said buddy you have done well but its time. The kid knew it and came out. Pitchers do 6 innings all the time. Plus all his pitches were thrown the end of his run he was throwing maybe 20 pitches and inning max. Great Job Rogo!

Posted by: cordova26 | April 3, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

I think more then anything else said here, people need to understand the situation. The first four innings consisted of three to four batters. yes i no the pitch count is still high, very high. but it was not like this kid stepped up and threw 50 pitches in the first inning. his arm was warmed up. second, this does not happen, and probably will never happen again. Im sure those of us on this board that play a sport, not just criticize them, understand the intensity of a player wanting to win. And no disrespect to the division 1 pitcher, im sure you were very good and did well as a coach too, but getting bursitis happens from long hours and lots of wear and tear on the shoulder,not just one game. Im sure the coach of this team will go out of his way to make sure rogowski does not pitch for another week if not more. At the end of the day, a player on his team made a sacrifice to win an important game. isnt that what players are asked to do everyday, make scrifices. Jason Ritenour is a great coach and will take the necassary steps to make sure his pitcher has the amount of rest and time needed

Posted by: hockeyrule | April 3, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Cordova26 just proves the need for pitch count limits for high school pitchers. The decision to protect young arms should be taken out of the hands of coaches and players. Young people think they are invincible and don't believe anything can hurt them. Any truly competitive athlete will always want the ball in his hands. My son played baseball up to the AAA level, but overuse in high school and college led to Tommy John surgery and an early end to his pro career. As a pitcher who threw in the low 90's in high school, his high school coach never took him out of a game. And my son always wanted to be on the mound in the tough games. If he hadn't been overused early, he may well be pitching today for a major league team.

Posted by: baseballfan2 | April 3, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

If anything the pitch count should be higher in high school than in leagues with older players. The ability to outlast and recover is a gift of youth that players in the minor and major leagues no longer have. As a senior pitcher he alone knows how his body reacts to pitching and should be trusted to make the decision himself.

Posted by: nyyanks2255 | April 3, 2010 7:23 PM | Report abuse

I don't think that you guys fully understand the situation at hand. Nicholas would walk through hell in a gasoline suit in order to play baseball through college and beyond. You can just practically feel his intensity and passion for the game seeping through your computer screen. This isn't one of those Little League schmucks who only plays baseball because his soccer mom made him. This is a guy who lives, sleeps and eats baseball. He came out of the womb with a glove in his hand and a bat on his shoulder. He has the body of a god, for crying out loud!! Nick Rogowski is a guy who plays the game he loves and loves the game he plays and for you guys to be ripping him and his coach to shreds after he goes out and plays the game of life, well.. THAT'S JUST NOT COOL, MAN!!!! I'm done.

Posted by: thebigyous | April 3, 2010 7:59 PM | Report abuse

Too many pitches for a high school pitcher, not matter what the kid or coach says. However, the real key will be when he pitches again and how much. The UVa pitching coach (Karl Kuhn) has a formula: 45 pitches off the mound requires 72 hours rest. Also, the number of competitive pitches a player is allowed in a year is 100 times the player's age. Hopefully the coach will give the kid the required rest to recover.

Posted by: baseball221 | April 4, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

If you don't think pitch counts matter, then you are dead wrong. This coach should not have cared how the pitcher is feeling during the game, he is often on an adrenalin high. It is after the game that he needs to worry about.

Why did the Nats have Stephen Strasburg on a 38 pitch count bull pen session earlier this year? Because they care more about the long term vs one game. A good coach would have his player's best interest at heart.

Read this article/presentation by Dr. James Andrews.

Posted by: baseball411 | April 4, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Having coached baseball for many years it's my observation that leaving it up to the pitcher to decide if he's done or "has one more inniing" is a cop out. As several posters have pointed out the pitcher in question is very competitive and his response is predictable. No pitcher ever wants to come out of a game like this but that's when the adults have to intervene. It's disappointing to see so many try to defend the indefensible. Look, if this pitcher has no aspirations of playing beyone HS, then who cares? He might be able to nurse himself through the rest of his HS season then he's done. But given the fact he plans on playing in college this is very sad. Many experts will tell you that young arms don't fully develop until mid-20s. Nolan Ryan attributes his longevity to not piling up innnings until his late 20s. There is no way to know if or when this will come back to haunt the kid but isn't it best to err on the side of caution?

Posted by: sjohns58 | April 4, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse

I think what it boils down to is the simple fact that the posters who have the opinion that Rogowski threw too many pitches and that Coach Ritenour should have pulled him, really don't know either of them and have never met either one of them. They don't know the History of Nick Rogowski as a pitcher from Little League through present day. I have seen Nick throw way over 100 pitches on many occasions and I have never heard of him having any type of arm trouble. He is just one of those athletes that can just keep going and going. I remember in 2004 when he threw 125 in a 6 inning Little League game on Opening Night and got the win.
The kid just doesn't tire. I don't know why, but he can just do it. He reminds me of a one of my cousins who was an All-Met pitcher locally. A fierce competitor and a gifted athlete that just wouldn't tire. He went on to pitch at UVA and to my knowledge,has never had any arm trouble and can still throw some incredible BP. I believe in pitch counts, but I believe that each pitcher has his own limits and I don't understand why everyone wants to put a particular number on all pitchers regardless of their make-up and ability.
As far as Coach Ritenour goes, the posters who have decided to bashed him obviously don't know a thing about him. Jason was a pitcher in College. He knows that a pitchers arm can become injured. He keeps close tabs on his pitchers and the relationship that he has with them is an honest man to man relationship that each pitcher at Woodbridge values very much. He has helped them to mature by being straight up with them and I my son has told me he doesn't want it any other way. Coach Ritenour would not have left anyone else out there because nobody but Nick could do what Nick did that night. I am proud to say that my son pitches and plays for Coach Ritenour and he has shown me over and over that he puts the health and well-being of each of his players at the top of his list. Bashing someone who you don't personally know or when you don't know the abilities of the athlete in question is ignorant. My suggestion would be to come on out to the field one night and watch this young and talented Viking team that has worked so hard to obtain the success they are having that some of you want to tear down.
Oh, by the way. My Cousin. He holds the ACC record for strikeouts in a game with 19 in 1974 vs. Clemson. In that same game he also established himself as having pitched the second most innings in a game with 15 innings. One inning shy of the same Clemson pitcher he faced that day who pitched 16 innings. Man, you guys would have Tar and Feathered Coach West and his opposing Coach if you had dotten wind of that one. GO VIKINGS !!!!!

Posted by: BTB74 | April 5, 2010 12:58 AM | Report abuse

I wasn't going to weigh in on this, but I decided I would. I happen to be the father of the pitcher we are talking about here. I don't want to challenge anybody here or to make excuses or justifications. I will simply speak my peace and hope it makes sense to the logical and rational people. First of all let me say this.......150 pitches is a lot. I do not deny that.
While I appreciate the stories and comments from the people sharing here, I do not know you individually. I do not know your circumstances, your extenuating circumstances, your work ethic, your dedication to your training, or your heart. Here is what I do know and the people being critical don't know.......I know our coach, our program, my love and protective concern for my son, and finally, I know my son.
My son is not a prima donna that has been told how great he is since he was 8 years old and struts around with entitlement issues. He has not received accolades, had articles written about him, pictures of him time and time again in the paper or end of season honors year after year. He is a kid that has dreams and works very hard at them. He has a work ethic and attitude that I would put up against anyone out there. He has a coaching staff and team mates that all care about each other and revel in working hard with each other and celebrating each others successes. I have spoken several times with his coach these past few days and we are on the same page. I have known his coach for 4 years now and trust him because of the man I have come to know over this 4 year period.
There are times when a well conditioned athelete just doesn't have it on a given day and that day ends early. It ends well short of what they are capable of. Then there are all the typical outings. Then there are those rare days that it is all there for them and they are able to perform in excess of the typical day. This is where world record performances come from. (Continued on next entry)

Posted by: ELR12 | April 5, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

On the day in question, my son pitched 8 strong innings. He struck out 17 batters and walked only 3 batters. In the last inning he struck out the side. This wasn't a fluke. You do not have that kind of outing, with those stats, that control, and that efficiency, if you have been over worked, and not religiously dedicated with your off season workouts.
For people that know me as a parent, they know how protective I am with my children. Nick has never suffered serious or chronic injuries from sports related competition in all of the years he has participated. That's not an accident. Its due to his conditioning and the people who care for him.
Finally, what bothers me most here is that for a kid that has only worked hard at becoming the player and person that he is today, it all results in controversy and overshadows a feat that I would imagine has not been matched often. All that has come from his efforts and his teams efforts is the negative taken from one moment in time. All people concerned here could really do some in depth research into the overall circumstance, the coaches, the program, the wonderful and dedicated kids on the team and what they are accomplishing together with great chemistry, leadership, and love of a game.
Its a shame that some people only look to tear things down. It seems that in the world today some folks ardent happy unless others are as miserable as they are.

His name is Nick, the team is the WOODBRIDGE Vikings, and they are a great bunch of kids that pull for each other as well as their friends on the other school teams.
Happy Easter and PLAY BALL!

Posted by: ELR12 | April 5, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Dad for your post and your defense of the coach. As one of the posts that has "bashed" the coach (not your son) let me point out that the critical posts are not directed at your son. I have followed this issue for many years and will admit that nobody knows the right number of pitches for any given pitcher in any given game. That said, there is a reason that not a single major or minor league pitcher EVER throws that many pitches. Not in many years anyway. There were only a few games of 120+ last year and that's typical. As talented and well conditioned as he may be it's unlikely that his talent or conditioning sets him apart from the best players in the world. Pitchers this talented should be treated with even more care than a guy who tops out as a high school player, IMO. I wish your son all the best and now that he's on my radar, I will be following his season and hopefully his college career as well. By the way, that was a very good S. Bridge lineup he dominated and speaks very highly for his abilities. Best of luck!

Posted by: sjohns58 | April 5, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

sjohns58..........I do appreciate your concern and best wishes for my boy. Believe me when I say that he is in good hands. One of my points, for those that may have missed it, is that this was a one time thing. It was also part of lengthy discussions by our coaches and myself in the days following the game. Unlike some coaches, ours are very approachable.
I am not blindly being loyal to our coach.
I feel that some of the people being critical of the coach are transferring there own experiences onto someone they dont know. Nor do they know the program, or the circumstances.
Dont be so quick to crucify one coach for one instance just because of a coach that may have misguided others long term. Thats all. I am very sorry for that happening to others. A kid should have great memories of his youth and playing ball.
For the record......prior to the game in question, Nick threw only 57 pitches four whole days earlier. 41 strikes and 16 balls. Three whole days prior to that, he threw 2 short innings of relief in a game well in hand. It was really just to get some work. Six whole days prior to that, he pitched his first game of the season and went 4 innings in a blow out. In reality, if you look at his 3 appearences preceeding this long outing, two of them were comparable to long bullpen sessions with a 2 inning hello/goodbye relief stint.
All I am saying is that when you know all the facts, you see a kid that hasnt been overworked and has had enough rest. He wont be pitching this week until Thursday which gives him 8 days of rest from this last outing. Believe me, he is about to realize a dream and I sure as hell wouldnt let any one jeopardize that. Trust me on that. Once again, thanks very much for your sincere concern and protective nature.
He is a great kid and I know he appreciates it. Thanks

Posted by: ELR12 | April 5, 2010 11:44 PM | Report abuse

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