MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Millions of kids around the country are currently in the middle of baseball season.
According to statistics, hundreds of thousands of those children will end up having to go to the doctor or hospital with a baseball-related injury.
"Unfortunately, the younger that they start having trouble with their shoulder or their elbow, the more likely they're going to continue to have trouble," said Dr. Gene Massey with Strand Orthopedics.
There are rules in place to prevent injuries. Pitch limits are an ever-evolving science. In Dixie Youth rules, 13- and 14-year-old pitchers are limited to 95 pitches in a day.
However, after just 45 pitches, there are requirements for rest. After 75 pitches, the rest time gets bumped up.
Still, there's a problem. Some kids aren't just playing Dixie Youth baseball during the week. They're on weekend teams as well. Some of those weekend teams play year-round, leading to an even bigger issue.
"The specialization is a problem," said Drew Thomas, pitching coach for Coastal Carolina University. "The bad thing is the athleticism is getting taken out of the pitcher."
When Thomas is recruiting elite athletes, he said he actually asks them if they play sports other than baseball.
"I think those guys have a better feel for their bodies and I think they have better aptitude on what their body is doing," Thomas said.
Kirk Gallion, with the Myrtle Beach Recreation Department, said it's up to parents to make sure if their child is playing in several leagues they're still following a uniform set of rules.
"While we can only monitor what happens in our league, it's up to the parents to monitor what happens on the weekends," Gallion said
All three men agree on one simple truth.
"Rest is key," Massey said..
"The rest is important because the problem with the youth kids is not only are they pitching, but they're playing another position," Thomas said.
"They need rest," said Gallion. "They need months off, not a week or two."
Experts said parents are not going to turn their kids into major leaguers by letting them overdo it.
"Everyone has their own development path," said Thomas "You can't really force it, but it's trying to get forced."
Gallion said he encourages parents to attend not only games but practices as well. He wants them asking questions and finding out how their child feels after playing.
Any hesitancy to go to practice may be a sign that something hurts or needs to be checked out.
Dr. Massey pointed out a website his office uses when consulting with young athletes.