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Pasco protects its pitchers

After a pitch count got out of hand, Pirates take measures to ensure aces aren't overworked.

By JOHN C. COTEY
Published March 6, 2007


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When Pasco coach Ricky Giles finally realized starting pitcher Aaron Brandt threw 147 pitches in his outing against Zephyrhills last Thursday and 136 in a game the week before, he said he felt sick to his stomach.

"Man, I've been sick for two to three days now over this," he said. "Just sick."

Friday morning after the game, Giles met with his coaching staff and athletic director Jim Ward, as well as Brandt's parents, to figure out how the junior right-hander was allowed to throw that many pitches and how to make sure it doesn't happen again.

The answer: Four players and coaches will now operate handheld tally counters during games, and Giles will be updated after each inning on how many pitches his starter has thrown.

"I think we used a method (that was flawed)," Giles said. "There was a problem, and we went in there and cleaned it up."

Giles, like almost every head coach, doesn't track pitches himself but has assistant coaches and players do it in a scorebook. The flaw in that, however, is more than 40 pitches were missed.

"They weren't counting foul balls," Giles said.

When Giles was told Brandt was at 98 pitches, he went to pull the pitcher mid-batter, unaware the actual count was much higher.

"No matter what had happened in there, it falls on me," Giles said. "I still have to say it's my fault. I don't run in this type of situation.

"I got four clickers to make sure I get the count every inning."

Giles said it was never his intent to leave Brandt in the game as long as he did. The pitcher needed 37 pitches to get out of the first inning and threw more than that in the sixth inning when he faced 10 Zephyrhills batters.

After going 2-0 on leadoff hitter Mike Davis to start the seventh, Giles pulled him.

The longtime Pasco coach said ideally he doesn't want his pitchers throwing many more than 90 pitches.

"I think that's pretty good with most of the guys right now," Giles said. "I just don't want anyone to think I was doing it just to win a ball game. I wouldn't do anybody like that.

"(The integrity) of the Pasco baseball program means a whole lot to me. What can I say, I need to do what's right for the kids."

Ward declined comment.

John C. Cotey can be reached at johncotey@gmail.com or (727) 869-6261.

[Last modified March 5, 2007, 23:45:44]


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