Orioles suffering oblique epidemic

Here's hoping Derrek Lee's return from an oblique strain is as strong as J.J. Hardy's. (J. Meric/Getty Images)

I was hoping the only roster moves the Orioles were going to make would be bringing back Brian Matusz and Alfredo Simon. It looks as if Derrek Lee and Cesar Izturis had different plans in mind.

Back-up infielder/utility guy Izturis has numbness in his right hand, and it may require surgery. Doctors in Baltimore discovered nerve irritation in his elbow, which is causing the numbness.

Derrek Lee, on the other hand, has what has become an Oriole epidemic: oblique strain. When the hell did this become a DL-list injury? Did we not have an oblique in the ’80s? Without dismissing the war of attrition that is a 162-game season, I can’t remember guys going on the DL for an oblique strain. I can’t remember that muscle ever being mentioned on This Week in Baseball (the more talented, older brother to ESPN). I think the closest we ever got was pulled rib cage, strained ribs or soreness on the left/right side. After hearing one of those statements, you might see a player sit one game and then return.

So far this season, the Orioles have had Matusz, J.J. Hardy and now Derrek Lee possibly DL bound for similar injuries. I’m sure some internet doctor is going to correct me because Matusz was on the DL for an intercostals strain. Again, intercostal isn’t a term you heard back in the day. They’re located so close to the oblique that they share the same nerve bundle, so they’re related. I wonder if Ty Cobb ever strained his oblique. Lou Gehrig was so freakin’ tough they named a disease after him; can’t see him sitting on the DL for some pain in his side. I guarantee Cal Ripken played through a pulled rib cage or two on his way to 2,131.

I’m not trying to make fun of modern players, (okay, maybe a little bit) but things are obviously different. The money’s big, the season’s long and wins can be hard to come by. Benching a star player to heal what can be a nagging injury is probably what the doctor ordered. A nagging oblique strain could possibly cost a slugger hits and pitchers mph if gone untreated. The discomfort and pain alone would be enough to create a negative attitude in a player. So, maybe Ty Cobb had an oblique strain after all.

O’s minor leaguer Brandon Snyder was in Boston but not activated due to the game being rained out. He will likely be activated during the Yankees series and could share first base with Jake Fox or Luke Scott if Lee does land on the DL. Filling the second spot could be outfielder Nolan Reimold, who in ’09 made an impact with the O’s, only to be sent back to the minors after a disappointing start to 2010.

Losing Izturis is disappointing, but he’s primarily a bench player. Lee, on the other hand, though not hitting up to expectations, has been a witch in the field. I don’t want Lee’s injury to be as serious as Hardy’s, but would love his return to be as impactful.


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