Michael Bourn has made a habit of telling his Braves teammates not to slide head-first, but now the center fielder has a thumb injury because he didn’t follow his own advice.
Bourn hurt his thumb head-first sliding Saturday and sat out yesterday’s game because it was sore and swollen. He’s hoping to rejoin the lineup Tuesday, but that’s no sure thing.
And as Bourn told David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, he feels pretty silly about it:
I know, and that’s what I tell them all the time–don’t slide head-first. And look what I did. Sliding head-first. I’ve done it before where I tore my ligament. I was just thinking, get to second, because I wanted us to continue to hit. Last thing I wanted was to get out right there, so in my head I was thinking to get to the bag. I knew I was going too fast. I don’t like to slide head-first, and that’s the reason why. It’s too risky. You go in too fast with your hands and you’ll [get hurt] more. Go in with your feet, you have a better chance.
Bourn actually remained in the game and later doubled, but now he’s slated to be examined by a hand specialist.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.