With Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles being on the DL for an oblique injury, it raises the question as to why this has become such a common malady in major league baseball.
Many of us who have been followers of the great American pastime wonder why it is that we never heard about this injury before recent years. Logic says that it cannot be an entirely new malady that had never happened much before, and indeed it is not … though it is certainly more prevalent in the modern game.
In the past it would have gone under the name of a rib cage injury or an abdominal strain. Now, with the advanced technology of magnetic resonance imaging, the more specific terminology of “oblique” has entered the mainstream reporting about this core injury.
Relative to other sports, baseball calls for a tremendous amount of rotational strain of the twisting and turning of the torso. Add to this the greater strength training of the modern athlete that increases these strains and forces, and at some point the muscle tissue is unable to absorb the activity.
As this injury seemed to grab the headlines so frequently in recent years, dropping more than a few famous players on the DL for extended times, baseball trainers and therapists began to research the issue more specifically. In 2011, the L.A. Dodgers trainer did an extensive 20-year study of baseball injuries. He did discover that there was some general increase in frequency over that time. But a more interesting statistic to rise from his research was that a full one-third of these oblique injuries happen in the month of April, seeming to suggest that many players are not ready at the front of the season for the stresses and strains of the regular season.
As with any kind of strain, there are degrees of breakdown and severity of condition. In any event, it really, really hurts! Some players who have had a bad case of oblique strains talk about it hurts to even absorb the pounding of walking, and having to sneeze is about the single most painful experience in life.
The injury is notoriously frustrating to rehab and return from inactivity – without a setback or worse. And the rehab portion of it simply involves a lot of rest – frustrating for the typical male who wants to “do something to fix this problem.”
All the talk sounds like Chris Davis’ particular case in on the less severe end of the spectrum. But what I believe can be read into Buck Showalter’s remarks about not actually expecting Davis back and playing two weeks from today is simply that no oblique injury actually heals up that fast.
Davis says he is historically a quick healer. I guess this is a little bit like a quick sleeper – you know, when Buck says at the end of an evening post-game interview about the day game to follow: “sleep fast.”
In any event, we are going to see some maneuvering and different players in different places. Nick Markakis looks pretty good at first base. That seems like a sufficient solution to me. Manny Machado might be back a few days earlier than most recently believed – so there is some good news.
The best day however will be the one where we look around the infield and see Chris Davis, Jonathon Schoop, J.J. Hardy, and Manny Machado. That is the infield we’ve been waiting for, but may have to wait a bit longer to see.