LH hitting RH Throwing Catchers Injury Concerns
The hardest working player on the field usually is the catcher, but there is one variation that makes it even harder. Left Handed hitting Right Handed throwing catchers have a very large problem with shoulder injuries because the muscles that are used to decelerate the arm while throwing and hitting are the same. On a typical catcher that throws right handed and hits right handed, opposite shoulders are having to slow either the arm or the bat down.
Make sure that on days that this kind of catcher has high workloads with throws, he has low workloads of swings and vice versa. A starting catcher in the Major Leagues will receive well over 18,000 pitches during a course of a season. He will not have to throw them all back, but that workload is only in the game situation. That doesn’t count throws in practice and in between innings compare that to the Major League Baseball leader in pitches thrown in 2007 Carlos Zambrano who threw 3,691 pitches. Those pitches were thrown down a hill, but it is only a fraction of the throws that a catcher has to make.
This is where physical conditioning and being smart with workloads will help keep a catcher on the field instead of the training room.
Physical conditioning to a catcher is just as important as skill training. Because you are only as strong as your weakest link, a catcher must be physically lined up from feet to fingertips simply because of all of the complex movements that one must perform when receiving, blocking, and throwing. Once you add in the workloads of hanging onto a bat and decelerating that bat with the same arm that one decelerates the throwing arm creates added stress that others do not have to endure. Many injuries to people who swing the bat occur in the front arm, the decelerating arm. There are issues with balance and posture in a swing that can create injuries much like there are issues when throwing. Understanding that on days that a catcher who hits LH and throws RH has high workloads, he is putting himself at a higher risk of injury. Light dumbbell and tubing work to strengthen the shoulder capsule and exercises to strengthen the backside of the shoulder and into the scapulas will not only help with injury, but can actually help increase the bat speed of the catcher as well. The body is only going to go as fast as it can slow itself down. By strengthening “the brakes” it will allow it to accelerate the bat at a greater speed because it can slow it down.
Workloads need to be monitored for this type of catcher as well. If he is going to have a large swing total day, the amount of throws and high intensity throws should be taken way down. On days where the throwing is going to be in higher volume and with greater intensity, the swing totals should be reduced.
Just be smart if there is any kind of issue. Understanding that there is a potential problem is half the battle and knowing that if there is an issue that you can help the catcher out by lightening workloads.