Can someone teach Alfonso Soriano to dive?

By jamesfrench

I can’t help but laugh every time I see Soriano go to the ground after making or attempting a diving/sliding catch. Was he ever taught how to appropriately dive or slide to make a catch? Last night it happened again, granted he made the catch, but it would be nice to see him do it gracefully just once.

During the Cardinals game last night, a line drive was hit towards Soriano in left. He came running up to make the grab, a perfect sliding catch opportunity, but instead he leaned forward making the catch below the waist, and then proceeded on with the barrel roll.

Chicago Cubs left fielder Alfonso Soriano misses a single hit by Atlanta Braves’ Alex Gonzalez during the seventh inning at Wrigley Field in Chicago on August 22, 2010. UPI/Brian Kersey

Instead of a dive or a slide, the barrel roll seems to be Soriano’s trademark in the field. You don’t see that type of landing too often, but it is what Soriano prefers after leaving his feet. Last night’s barrel roll did not seem as bad as we have seen in the past. It definitely looked like he had much more control of his body. With that in mind, even Bob Brenly mentioned this as he stated, “normally we see more of a collapse from Soriano,” and I could not have said it better myself.

Growing up loving baseball, and playing it my whole life, I remember wanting to make diving catches all the time. My friends and I would literally play a game where we would throw the ball further out of our reach so we can try and make diving catches. The person with the most diving catches would win. This game taught us better than anything, and I guess Alfonso never played such games as a kid.

It is funny to watch him make those types of catches out in the field, but there are concerns to the way he does it. He has a much more likely chance of making an error or getting hurt by not diving correctly. Every time that he goes down and ends in that barrel roll, I hold my breath thinking that he will get up limping and have another leg injury.

Soriano has been the Cubs biggest power threat this season, and losing him would almost be like losing half of your offense with the way the rest of the hitters have been playing. Power seems to be the only way that the Cubs can score, as they are still awful at hitting with runners in scoring position, and last night was no exception.

So is it too late to teach an old dog new tricks? Or can someone take Soriano out on a day off and have a fun game of just diving for the ball. Although maybe they have just been waiting for him to improve his basic fielding mechanics first. Either way, the Cubs cannot afford to lose Soriano to a stupid injury.

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