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Spring training tips to avoid softball injuries

Monday - 3/5/2012, 4:18am  ET

adult baseball (Courtesy of City of St. Petersburg)
Before picking up a glove, make sure you are ready to take the field. (Courtesy of City of St. Petersburg, Fla.)

Before playing softball, take the advice of the pros

WTOP's Neal Augenstein reports.

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Neal Augenstein, wtop.com

WASHINGTON -- With the weather turning warmer, a lot of people are digging through closets, looking for a softball glove.

While you're at it, grab the liniment and painkiller.

"We all want to think we're 21 years old," says Steve McCatty, pitching coach for the Washington Nationals.

McCatty told WTOP's Craig Heist at the Nationals spring training facility, in Viera, Fla., he sees weekend athletes overextend themselves when he coaches at fantasy baseball camps.

"Everyone comes out the first day, running three flat to first base. By the third day they're running nine flat or just completely flat."

Besides pulled hamstrings and other sprinting-related injuries, aging arms aren't as strong or supple as they used to be.

"Before you even pick up a baseball or softball to throw, run, do some calisthenics, and get sweaty, and then throw," says Nats head trainer Lee Kuntz.

"Warm up to throw, don't throw to warm up," says Kuntz.

Kuntz and McCatty suggest tossing a ball, starting from a close distance, and for a short period of time, as the way to avoid arm injuries.

"You really need to start short, 60 feet, and back it out," says Kuntz.

"Ten minutes, 15 minutes, and then after you play catch a few times, then you might stretch it out a little further," says McCatty.

Both professionals warn weekend athletes can waste an entire season if they fail to warm up properly.

"If you haven't thrown all winter, and pick up a ball and try to do what you did at the end of last season, you're going to end up seeing a doctor," Kuntz said.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)