Super prospect Carlos Correa told reporters today that he is going to work on his base sliding after breaking his right leg and ankle last season. That should surprise no one as the young man is regaining his confidence while trying to get back on the fast track to the Major League level.
What was surprising was a tweet from MLB.com reporter Brian McTaggart:
So, Correa is going to slide headfirst while stealing bases? Was this in jest? Several fans, including former Astros broadcaster Greg Lucas, expressed their dismay at the possibility.
I asked McTaggart if Correa was joking, but got no reply.
Between players and coaches, there are differing views on this practice.
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In recent years, teams have tried to discourage their players from headfirst slides because of the risk of significant injuries to the head and neck, including concussions, and to the finger/hand/wrist area, like breaks, sprains, and dislocations. Players have also pulled muscles in their torsos while performing this stunt. Despite the growing opposition, several players like Josh Hamilton, Bryce Harper, and Ben Zobrist hurt themselves going headfirst into a bag during the 2014 season.
That being said, there are three generally accepted no-nos on headfirst slides:
1. Going to first base
2. Breaking up a double play
3. Sliding into home
As for the Houston Astros, the team instituted a ban on leading with your face in the minor leagues back in 2004, but it is unclear whether the new front office still carries this policy or not. One would assume that the Astros’ “brain trust” has data on whether this is more likely to result in a significant injury than a feetfirst slide, and that the team will address it with the young shortstop, if necessary.
Until then, Jonathan Villar can offer some advice on one of the perils of going in headfirst: embarrassment.
P.S. Headfirst is a compound word. I couldn’t decide if it should be hyphenated or two separate words. Thank you, Merriam-Webster, for your guidance.