Smoltz warns kids about elbow injuries, play multiple sports

BY foxsports • July 27, 2015

By Steve DelVecchio

John Smoltz was one of four former MLB players inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday, and the Atlanta Braves legend took some time during his speech to warn parents about the dangers of elbow issues at a young age.

In short, Smoltz encouraged high school-aged kids to play multiple sports, saying that baseball does not have to be life and calling Tommy John surgery an “epidemic.”

“I want to encourage the families and parents that are out there that this is not normal to have surgery at 14 and 15 years old,” Smoltz said, via TCU baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle. “That you have time, that baseball is not a year-round sport. That you have an opportunity to be athletic and play other sports. Don’t let institutions that are out there running before you guaranteeing scholarship dollars and signing bonuses that this is the way…

“I want to encourage you, if nothing else, know that your children’s passion and desire to play baseball is something that they can do without a competitive pitch. Every throw a kid makes today is a competitive pitch. They don’t go outside, they don’t have fun, they don’t throw enough — but they’re competing and maxing out too hard, too early, and that’s why we’re having these problems. Please, take care of those great future arms.”

That was an incredibly refreshing take from someone who has been there. We’re so used to pitchers undergoing Tommy John surgery that we have almost become desensitized to it. Kids and young pitchers are having their elbows rebuilt at an alarming rate, and their parents know very little about it.

High schoolers and younger kids see stuff like Smoltz’s backyard and want to do anything they can to have his life. You can still accomplish that without throwing 100 curve balls a game at age 14.

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