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Matt McLain will be watching his oblique closely, but he's not concerned

GOODYEAR, Ariz. –– Cincinnati Reds second baseman Matt McLain missed the stretch run of last season with an oblique injury, and his return to the field at spring training provided an unfortunate reminder.

Oblique injuries are tricky, and you can’t rush your way back.

McLain took too many batting practice swings a few days ago, and he aggravated his oblique. He’s expected to be shut down for five-to-seven days, and McLain isn’t worried about not being ready by Opening Day.

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“I just got ahead of myself,” McLain said. “I felt good for a while over the course of the offseason. I was just doing too much every single day. With obliques, they’re touchy. You’ve got to watch them closely.”

Cincinnati Reds shortstop Matt McLain (9) takes batting practice during spring training workouts, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024, at the team’s spring training facility in Goodyear, Ariz.
Cincinnati Reds shortstop Matt McLain (9) takes batting practice during spring training workouts, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024, at the team’s spring training facility in Goodyear, Ariz.

This injury is in a different area of McLain’s oblique than the injury that put him on the injured list for the final month of the 2023 season. An MRI came back with positive results, and he’ll rest, rehab and strengthen that area to avoid a recurrence.He also won’t push himself too hard with too many swings in batting practice.

“Looking back on it, there’s nothing that’s going to match the intensity of me hitting in the cage versus me hitting live,” McLain said. “That’s not the same as BP swings. I’ve got to be smarter about it moving forward. Luckily, it looks like we avoided something. I’ll take some days and get back at it.”

Cincinnati Reds third baseman Elly De La Cruz (44), left, and Cincinnati Reds shortstop Matt McLain (9), walk back to the clubhouse during spring training workouts, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024, at the team’s spring training facility in Goodyear, Ariz.
Cincinnati Reds third baseman Elly De La Cruz (44), left, and Cincinnati Reds shortstop Matt McLain (9), walk back to the clubhouse during spring training workouts, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024, at the team’s spring training facility in Goodyear, Ariz.

McLain has talked with teammate Brent Suter, the new Reds reliever who missed time last year with an oblique injury. Suter gave McLain some advice, and McLain recognizes the steps he has to take to put the injury behind him.

“It’s more of just building it so when I go out there, it’s good,” McLain said. “I think I did that in the offseason. I think it was too early for the amount of workload I was doing. So I could have held off a week or two before I got to where I was at. And the plan was originally I was going to use spring as a little bit of a build up as well. Because I was out here early, (I was) just kind of going at it and it happened.”

The Reds are counting on McLain this year to start every day and hit at the top of their order. He was the team’s best player last season, and the Reds weren’t the same when he was on the injured list.

McLain is a critical player on the team, but this is also his first spring training as a big leaguer. This injury provided an early career lesson.

“I want to play game one,” McLain said. “If I have to miss a little time in the first week of spring (training), the first two weeks of spring, so be it.”

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Matt McLain discusses his new oblique injury in spring training