What’s the deal with all of the oblique injuries?

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That’s a question we’ve asked around here a lot lately, although we’re doing it more or less rhetorically. Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times really wanted to know, so he asked Stan Conte, the Dodgers head trainer about it.  Conte researched such injuries and discovered that, no, this was not just a matter of us paying closer attention to such injuries: He found that four players had gone on the disabled list with what he calls “core” injuries — which include obliques — at this point a year ago. But 14 have this season. This represents the biggest spike in such injuries in the last 20 years.

Conte’s belief: the shorter time between the start of spring training and the beginning of spring training games this year, plus the earlier start to the regular season, due to the compressed schedule.  This is bolstered by data showing that oblique injuries are typically far more prevalent in the early part of the season and tail off as the year goes on.

Personally, I blame “Jersey Shore” and its message that men need six packs in order to fulfill the, um, Situational ideal. As a result, too much work on strengthening abs that in turn put too much stress on the surrounding muscles. Conte dismisses the notion, saying that working on ab muscles is a good thing. He thinks it’s a matter of not enough stretching and conditioning and not enough reps in the cage to get ready. Too many serious swings too fast.

Considering Conte’s experience and expertise, and considering that I just made up my explanation with no training or research whatsoever in order to shoe-horn in a cultural reference, I’m going to grudgingly admit that Conte may be right.

Royals outfielder Gordon to retire after 14 seasons

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Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon, the former first-round pick whose rollercoaster career took him from near bust to All-Star and Gold Glove winner, announced Thursday he will retire after the season.

Gordon was the second overall pick in the 2005 first-year player draft following a standout career at Nebraska, where he won the Golden Spikes Award as the best amateur in baseball. He made his big league debut two years later and, after a few years shuttling back and forth to the minors, moved from third base to the outfield and finally found success.

He wound up playing his entire 14-year career in Kansas City, joining only George Brett and Frank White as position players with that much longevity with the franchise. He heads into a weekend four-game series against Detroit with the third-most walks (682), fourth-most homers (190), fifth-most doubles (357) and sixth-most games played (1,749) in club history.

The three-time All-Star also holds the dubious distinction of being the Royals’ career leader in getting hit by pitches.

While he never quite hit with the kind of average the Royals hoped he would, Gordon did through sheer grit turn himself into one of the best defensive players in the game. He is the only outfielder to earn seven Gold Gloves in a nine-year span, a number that trails only White’s eight for the most in franchise history, and there are enough replays of him crashing into the outfield wall at Kauffman Stadium or throwing out a runner at the plate to run for hours.

Gordon won the first of three defensive player of the year awards in 2014, when he helped Kansas City return to the World Series for the first time since its 1985 championship. The Royals wound up losing to the Giants in a seven-game thriller, but they returned to the Fall Classic the following year and beat the Mets in five games to win the World Series.

It was during the 2015 that Gordon hit one of the iconic homers in Royals history. His tying shot off Mets closer Jeurys Familia in Game 1 forced extra innings, and the Royals won in 14 to set the tone for the rest of the World Series.

Gordon signed a one-year contract to return this season, and he never considered opting out when the coronavirus pandemic caused spring training to be halted and forced Major League Baseball to play a dramatically reduced 60-game schedule.

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