Like any plan, this one isn't perfect. Even those who worked tirelessly for its passage would acknowledge that.

Yet the Virginia High School League's new baseball pitching regulations, which go into effect with Tuesday's season openers, are being viewed as a necessary upgrade from the previous guidelines. Which, if manipulated by careless coaches and parents, would allow a teenager to pitch 30 innings over a six-day period.

The rising costs of overuse to a young pitcher's arm have been well documented. Noted surgeon James Andrews recently told ESPN.com that he performs three or four elbow reconstruction surgeries a week on high school athletes.

More and more stats are acting.

"We used baseball people and sports medicine people to come up with something together," said VHSL co-director of athletics Tom Dolan, whose duties include interpreting rules for baseball. "It was a safety issue, and we had to do something for the safety of the athlete."

The VHSL's new rule, which was approved in December by the executive committee, limits a pitcher to nine innings in one day and 14 in a seven-day period. An inning is defined as at least one pitch thrown.

Among the other stipulations:

•If a pitcher throws two or three innings in one day, he must have one calendar day of rest before pitching again.

•If a pitcher throws one inning for four consecutive days, he must have one calendar day of rest before pitching again.

•If a pitcher throws four to seven innings in one day, he must have at least two calendar days of rest, at which point he can throw a maximum of two innings.

Failure to comply can result in forfeiting a game and a $100 fine to the school.

As for enforcement, that has been left up to the districts (soon to be conferences). In the Peninsula District, the opposing coaches will meet on the field after every game to compare scorebooks. The numbers will then be reported to Kecoughtan athletic director Lee Martin, who oversees baseball in the PD.

In the Bay Rivers District, the coaches will police themselves.

"We're professionals," Warhill coach Joe Henzel said. "And we're expected to fulfill the mandate in accordance with VHSL rules."

York coach Rusty Ingram, who was on the committee that drafted the rule, believes this to be common sense.

"You don't see Major League pitchers pitching on two days rest because they have four- or five-man rotations," he said. "Some coaches are a little leery about learning to develop pitchers if they haven't pitched before, but it's something they're going to have to learn to stay competitive."

Denbigh coach Chris Ochsenfeld, who pitched at Bethel and had a five-year career in the minor leagues, is all for preserving arms.

"I understand what it feels like to pitch, and I know what it does to an arm," he said. "I remember high school coaches doing everything to dog out pitchers. Personally, I try to work as many pitchers in as possible."

Until now, the VHSL rule was nearly worthless. Pitchers were limited to 10 innings in consecutive days. There was no mention of a rest period or a weekly total of innings.

"With that rule in place, a kid literally could pitch five innings every day of the week except Sunday," Dolan said. "And that's only because we don't allow play on Sunday."