By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
The order of those loves can be argued, but Bogaerts made it quite clear over the weekend that despite suggestions from many people, he does not intend to stop his practice of diving into first base.
And he certainly doesn’t want to entertain the idea of staying on his feet when speaking with reporters.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” Bogaerts said Saturday, after his most recent first-base dive, according to The Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham. “It’s been part of the game, and it’s part of what I do. If I feel like diving, I’ll do it.”
It’s an odd hill to defend, particularly because it often doesn’t work. Bogaerts was called out on a close play in Saturday’s game, in large part because it was impossible to tell on replay when his hand made contact with the base in relation to the ball entering Ryon Healy’s glove. The Red Sox lost the game 1-0.
There’s also an obvious injury risk whenever a player dives headfirst, but especially at first base, where the first baseman is not generally expecting a player to slide through the bag. So whether it’s taking out the first baseman’s legs and having a body fall on top of him, or just the regular risk of spraining or breaking fingers or wrists, accidents can happen. Dustin Pedroia knows that all too well. Such a risk should be front-and-center for Bogaerts, who dealt with a wrist injury that hampered him for the majority of last season.
Manager Alex Cora said he’s tried to convince Bogaerts that diving into first base is a bad idea, but to no avail.
“I think it’s more about [staying] healthy, forget about being safe at first,” Cora said, per the Globe. “It’s just about health. We’ll see if we can make him stop. It’s like an everyday thing.”
Saturday’s dive was the second in a week, as Bogaerts made a diving attempt into first base the previous weekend against the Chicago White Sox. He was also out on that play.
Expert opinions vary on the subject of whether or not diving into first base headfirst slows a runner down. And the Olympic performance of Shaunae Miller in 2016 threw the whole “Olympic sprinters don’t dive across the finish line” argument on its head. But any potential benefit is minimal, especially in relation to the added risk of injury. For Bogaerts, who is in the midst of arguably the best season of his career, the matter only affects him maybe 10 times per season. But all it takes is one accident for a serious issue to arise.
Cora said that as a former player, he understands the natural urge a player can feel to dive for the bag. But from Bogaerts’ perspective, it might be time to at least consider resisting that urge, before he has to spend a month on the disabled list reconsidering his stance.