MLB grappling with unprecedented spike in injuries: ‘We’ve never seen an increase like these two months’

Jack Flaherty and Fernando Tatis Jr. very well could have – maybe still will – win the National League Cy Young and MVP awards, respectively.

Yet in a span of less than 24 hours, the St. Louis Cardinals ace and San Diego Padres shortstop suffered oblique injuries, the latest stars succumbing to what can only be described as an unstoppable epidemic in Major League Baseball.

Flaherty tore his oblique muscle during a Monday start at Dodger Stadium; his absence will be measured in months, not weeks. Tatis, 23, was removed with oblique tightness one night later and the cautious maneuver left manager Jayce Tingler “optimistic we caught it before things got bad.”

Tatis has already made two trips to the injured list, due to a shoulder injury, but looks to have dodged a bullet in joining dozens of others to suffer a soft tissue injury – pulls, strains or tears of the hamstring, oblique quadriceps or groin – ravaging MLB one year after a pandemic-shortened season.

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Through May, there were 104 soft tissue injuries that resulted in stints on the IL, a 160% increase over the 48 after two months in 2019, according to Stan Conte, the former trainer for the Dodgers and Giants who now operates Conte Sport Performance Therapy in Arizona and consults for multiple MLB franchises and the league office.


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