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Injury prevention a high priority for Brewers

PHOENIX -- After being dogged by leg injuries last season, particularly hamstring injuries to pitchers, the Brewers are taking steps to bolster their already extensive injury prevention initiative.

The team is consulting with a company called Move 2 Perform to better analyze measurements taken during Spring Training physicals. Brewers medical officials underwent training last week in software that collects data from a series of tests and produces reports, as medical director Roger Caplinger put it, "That can say, 'These players are at potential risk of injury because of X, Y and Z.'"

"We will be able to use this in conjunction with the biomechanical analysis that Dr. [William] Raasch does as well as a stretching program, our range of motion program, our rotator cuff program," Caplinger said. "We have all of these programs in place to keep our guys on the field."

The Brewers have been collecting some of the raw data for years, Caplinger said, but were looking for better ways to put it into practice. Move 2 Perform staff was on hand for this year's physicals, but in future years, the Brewers will be able to collect and analyze data themselves.

"What it has given us is some additional information that may not have been readily apparent to the eye that we can focus on," assistant general manager Gord Ash said. "A lot of it is based on core strength and flexibility, and hips are always a big issue. All of that has been addressed. We have been a lot more actively involved in trying to do that."

The Brewers are also bringing in a speed specialist for about 10 days beginning next week who will focus "more about form of running," Ash said. "We're not trying to produce track stars here. We're just looking for improvements in form."

Other initiatives are ongoing, including Raasch's biomechanical analysis program in partnership with Milwaukee's Froedtert Sports Medicine Center. Raasch uses eight cameras and 42 electronic markers to measure a pitcher's throwing motion, then analyzes the results to identify strengths and weaknesses. This year, Brewers pitchers will be measured later in Spring Training, from March 17-23, to see how the results compared to past tests early in camp.

This will be the 10th year of Raasch's program.

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke has noticed a big change on the medical front over the years.

"It didn't used to be that you came into camp thinking, 'Well, what do we do if we have these injuries?'" Roenicke said. "You used to feel that everybody was going to be healthy, and it was going to be a surprise if somebody got hurt. It's not a surprise anymore. It's going to happen. For a staff to go through a whole season and not have any injuries, it's so rare now that you'd better have alternate plans for it."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy.
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