MLB’s oblique injury epidemic may be traced to creatine

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If we had to identify the three most common themes of the 2011 season thus far, it’d read something like this: rainouts, flu viruses and oblique injuries.

The first can be explained rather easily. Spring is a wet season in almost every part of the baseball-watching world and North America has been pounded by several major storm systems this year.

The second is a little trickier, but influenza is influenza and it tends to spread pretty quickly.

The third? … well … listen to this:

According to Christian Red of the New York Daily News, sports physician Dr. Lewis Maharam has discovered that the upswing in oblique strains across Major League Baseball can probably be traced back to the legal dietary supplement creatine.

Creatine adds water molecules to muscle fibers, which can cause those fibers to separate.

“This makes for easier muscle tears and slows the repair process, leaving them on injured reserve longer,” Maharam says. “It is because of these side effects that professionals for a long time went away from creatine when they could use anabolics and HGH. Now that testing is stronger, I have seen a trend back toward the safer creatine.”

Evan Longoria, Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson, Jason Bay, Angel Pagan, J.A. Happ, Ronny Paulino, Fred Lewis, Jon Garland, J.J. Hardy and Erick Aybar have all been plagued by oblique issues in one form or another this season. And they’re far from alone.

Creatine, at least to this point, is not banned by baseball, the NFL, the NBA, the NHL or the NCAA.

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.

Rockies sign 30-year lease to stay in Coors Field

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Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports that the Rockies agreed to a $200 million, 30-year lease with the Metropolitan Baseball Stadium District, which is the state division that owns Coors Field. As part of the deal, the Rockies will lease and develop a plot of land south of the stadium, which will cost the team $125 million for 99 years.

As Groke points out, had the Rockies not reached a deal by Thursday, March 30, the lease would have rolled over for five more years.

Rockies owner Dick Monfort issued a statement, saying, “We are proud that Coors Field will continue to be a vital part of a vibrant city, drawing fans from near and far and making our Colorado residents proud.”

The Rockies moved into Coors Field in 1995. It is the National League’s third oldest stadium. In that span of time, the Rockies have made the playoffs three times, the last coming in 2009 when they lost in the NLDS to the Phillies. The Rockies were swept in the 2007 World Series by the Red Sox.