So what are obliques and intercostals?

If anybody believes that Billy Hamilton is not ultra-important while patrolling center field for the Cincinnati Reds, well, here’s hoping you watched Thursday night’s game.

If you didn’t, here is what happened. Hamilton is absent from the lineup with one of those nasty oblique injuries and isn’t with the team in Pittsburgh.

JOSE PERAZA, A SPEEDY guy (but not as fast as Hamilton) was in center field Thursday against the Pirates. He is an infielder by trade, but the Reds play him here, there and everywhere to get his bat in the lineup. And he is an above-average defender wherever he plays, even center field. But he is not Billy Hamilton.

In the bottom of the first, the Pirates had runners on third and second with two outs and two strikes on Jung Ho Kang.

Pitcher Dan Straily left one over the plate and Kang conked it on a line to center. Peraza almost caught it. Almost. It zipped past him for a two-run double. And the Pirates scored another run in the first for a 3-0 lead.

It says here that Hamilton would have caught that ball to end the inning with no runs in a game the Reds lost, 4-1. This is no indictment of Peraza. Not many outfielders catch that ball, but Hamilton does.

SO HOW ABOUT THIS oblique? What is it? Where did it come from? There are two parts of the body that have surfaced in recent times, body parts that seem to pop up as injuries these days. It is oblique and intercostal.

Did anybody hear about obliques and intercostals a dozen years ago.

LET’S TURN TO SOMEBODY who knows, like Dr. Andy Foley of Beavercreek, who e-mailed me to educate me.

“Oblique muscles are on the rib cage, start in the middle and extend obliquely toward the tip of the shoulder. When they contract, they rotate the torso. .  Hitters these days don't stride into the fast ball because every mother's son throws 95 mph.  They lift the front foot, plant it and rotate the hips and torso.  Perfect example:  Adam Duvall.  That's why strength coaches want strong core muscles, which include the oblique. That’s why there is a plethora of .210 hitters with 30 homers.

“That’s why pitchers who paint the outside black drive Mercedes Benzes. The problem is that obliques are little filets under enormous strain and hence the epidemic of oblique injuries.

“Pitchers use the obliques to juice the fastball. Pitchers should be banned from the weight room and concenrate on running and throwing the baseball.”

Both Anthony DeSclafani and Tim Adleman missed considerable time off the mound for the Reds this year with oblique injuries.

AND THE INTERCOSTA, not to be confused with intercoastal waterways prevalent in Florida.

Writes Dr. Foley, “The intercostals muscles are between the ribs. When you order ribs, you eat those muscles. Notice also that the bones are clean when you are done. That is because you ate the cartilage that attaches the muscle to the rib bone. When a player hurts an intercostals he pulls that cartilage off the bone and that is as painful as a two-hour political speech.”

I’ll never eat ribs at the Montgomery Inn again. Well, not for a day or two.

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