Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Holy Oblique Batman! Not the Upper Torso Again!

The dreaded oblique injury.  It seems that this is the nagging injury that has effected a lot of Dodgers over the last 10 years.    Dave Roberts, Chad Billingsly, Jeff Kent, Alex Castellanos (during AZ Fall League play), Rafael Furcal, Jon Garland, and even Dioner Navarro.  These are just a few Dodgers that have suffered from this injury that I remember off the top of my head.  I’m sure there are more.  Now we can add Ivan DeJesus Jr. to the list after having an excellent Spring Training campaign.
Former Dodger tore his oblique muscle doing of all things, hitting a home run off of Jake Peavy in 2002
DeJesus seemed to have fallen deep in the Dodgers infield depth chart this winter with the signings of Ellis, Kennedy and Hairston.  The likelihood of him making the club was remote at best, but he certainly had raised some eyebrows.  I hope he recovers and continues to tear the cover off the ball in Triple A.  The oblique injury reared its ugly head like it has so many times before.  It is perplexing why this injury has been so frequent in baseball over the last decade or so. 
The Dodgers Senior Director of Medical Services, Stan Conte, reports that this type of injury is up 250% since 1991.  Why is that? Conte has his theory.  Much of it has to do with the fact that today medical staffs are completing correct diagnosis of injuries now.  Prior to 1990, these upper torso injuries were called “rib cage injuries,” or abdominal injuries.  With the advent of the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), these scans have been able to pinpoint an exact identification of player maladies.
Now, they just call these upper core injuries oblique tears or strains. 

Stan Conte and Dee Gordon, August, 2011
Conte theorizes that though the identification of the injuries is now properly diagnosed, thus accounting for higher numbers, he also believes that the amount of these upper core injuries has risen.  He notes that the modern day player makes a quick transition from the resuming baseball activities at his Spring Training report date to actual games in the exhibition season.  The baseball activites of swinging, throwing, stopping and starting all create great upper torso strains.  If a guy works out all off season, his upper core may be strengthened, but the muscles attaching the rib cage and pelvis to the upper torso may not be strong enough to withstand the increased torque that is involved in baseball activities.  I would think that the year round training regimen many players engage in now might have something to do with it and players need to do exercises that keep the obliques strong.

I don’t think it is a coincidence that these injuries have increased at the exact same time that players began to bulk up during the steroid era.  I’m not tying oblique injuries to steroids, only to the increased belief that ball players need to increase upper body strength to be successful.
The truth of the matter is that it’s a guessing game as to what the real reason is, but that’s my theory.
Life has been quite hectic lately.  I have been catching up with about 4-5 hours of recordings of Dodger related material on my DVR.  I just watched the Dodger chapter on "30 Clubs in 30 Days" from the MLB network and couldn't help but notice Baseball Prospectus' predictions.  It sure would be nice to make them look bad this year.  Seriously?  Last place?  Even behind the Padres?  I love being the underdog.


  1. I expect in the good old days we didn't know nearly as much about the type of injuries that were occurring. On the other hand, and maybe it is just telling on my age, but I simply don't recall nearly as many injuries with the players. That is interesting as I don't think they had the off season conditioning regiment that many players do now. Many players had off season jobs. Maybe it was their type of work that protected them in ST.

    If players are going to work out during the off season, perhaps they should have personal trainers who can devise programs to help avoid quad, oblique, groin injuries. Those seem to be almost common and expected in ST.

    In any event, I expect IDJ is Albuquerque bound, if he was not already scheduled to be there. He has no luck, but bad luck. Now Sellers has a quad strain.

  2. I think the oblique injury is caused mostly or mainly by the act of swinging the bat. Sometimes it just happens on a poor swing, possibly a bad or maybe too quick a swing of the rib cage. Maybe the batter tried to check his swing for a fraction of the moment when it's too late to do so. Whatever it's all part of the game. Injuries occur.

  3. Oblique injuries might be part of the game, but it seems to me that it is a part that should be able to be managed better. That is, with modern medicine, improved knowledge, and training methods, there must be a way to prevent some of these costly injuries. Why can't the attaching rib and pelvis muscles be strengthened to match the strengthening of the upper torso?