Longoria Falls Victim to the Dreaded Oblique Monster
Tampa Bay Rays Third Baseman Evan Longoria said he felt “it” become sore and begin to tighten a bit during the Rays Batting Practice before Saturday night’s contest. Longoria pushed it off like it was a cramp, player play with aches and pains every night. He truly felt this same discomfort would somehow ease and just go away like so many before it.
Suddenly in the bottom of the 4th inning in only the second Tampa Bay Rays game of the season, Longoria felt the pain deepening during his plate appearance where he hit a line drive directly to Centerfield. Upon returning to the Rays dugout he sought out the Rays Medical staff who then delivered the bad news to Rays Manager Joe Maddon.
Instantly gone from the game was a key linchpin who had just received his second Rawlings Gold Glove Award prior to the game, and was a key emotional leader of this young Rays club. All because Longoria could not effectively decipher the origin of the pain in his midsection. It is not arrogance that makes you feel like something this small can not sideline you, it is an overabundance of confidence, and smattering of a simple lack of knowledge in understanding your own body.
Who could imagine something as small as a sore midsection muscle group could sideline a budding Major League Baseball superstar? Much less eventually have the power to possibly cost him the first month of this new season while riding the pine.
Players play in pain for a variety of reasons. Some do not want to let down their teammates and will go until the pain is too much, or the injury zaps them into submission. Others try and discard the pain and temporary thinking improper stretching or that the pain will work itself out as the body heats up and you begin to move. It is a problem formed the player’s own youth as much as it is Longoria’s want to compete.
I remember when I was in my mid-20’s and feeling adamantly on the field that I was definitely what Travis Tritt calls ” Six Feet Tall and Bulletproof”. I played through pain, subjected myself to increasingly harmful pivots and shooting bouts of pain from stem to stern because I felt this could not sap me of my energy and fight. Longoria found out firsthand, the body wins the fight every time.
I do give some credit to Longoria finally confessing to the pain before trying to get through the entire game and possibly making the injury worse and deepen his time away from the field. Best prognosis could have Longoria back in up to 15 days, but the oblique has a mind of its own sometimes and that could be extended to almost 30 days before Longoria sees game action again.
In hindsight, I fell Longoria would have pulled himself from the Saturday night line-up knowing an early detection and treatment might have only kept him off the turf for a few days. Now Longoria will be reduced to “cheer leading” duty, trying to keep the positive vibe alive for the other 24 of his teammates.
Longoria most definitely learned a unique and timeless lesson last night as he sat frustrated on the bench after being replaced by Sean Rodriguez at his Third Base post to start the 5th inning. It is a simple philosophy that MLB veterans have known for a long time, that you constantly have to listen to your body talk to you.
It signals and barks warning signs to you all the time, but the hard difference to decipher is when it is an alarm being sounded within you, and when it is just plain soreness. The daily grind can produce false indicators, or even brief moments of discomfort with no lasting results. Learning to read the body’s complex signals is a hard job, especially when you are young. The game of baseball using a concentrated and bizarre bit of torque points and stress manipulation of your body constantly during an athlete’s performance.
Using your Medical Staff to educate you and advise you sometimes can be a hard thing for a young player. You do not want to throw up the image of hypochondria, or being overcautious to the point of trying to find reasons for every ache, pain or muscle soreness. Then again, you do not want to play and agitate and injury into a prolonged bout of trying to get healthy again.
Longoria tried to play the odds with his body by hoping it was just a muscle stiffness that would fade away after a few innings of sweat, manipulation and further stretching of his muscles. It is a ticking time bomb of unexpected results that was defused before it became a threating injury.
The mind can sometimes “will” the body to do things beyond its own boundaries. In this case, Longoria was smart enough to notice the pain increasing and stopping before his machine was further damaged.
The Rays staff decided before Sunday’s game that Longoria will have a stay on the 15-day Disabled List and could possibly have a longer stint off the playing field. The Rays immediately recalled INF Felipe LopezI, who was just 80 miles away at the Port Charlotte,Florida complex with the Triple-A Durham Bulls and will be in the Rays dugout for the 1:40 pm start time.
It is a good sign that Longoria, the Rays outspoken clubhouse leader heeded his body’s signals when he did, possibly saving not only time on the bench but providing a sigh of relief for his team. Now we just have to send out positive vibes, hoping for a short time off instead of a lengthy rehab or reoccuring injury.
15 possible days without the services of Longoria will seem like a eternity to some fans, but it is a short time considering if he has torn that muscle, or even ripped a bit of its strands, he would have a permanent spot on the bench watching his teammates perform and wish he had listen to his internal “machine”.