Baseball manager willing to help Colts QB Andrew Luck with his sliding technique

Colts owner Jim Irsay has talked internally about bringing in a baseball player or coach to help Andrew Luck with his sliding. "Russell Wilson is a baseball player, and when he slides, he does it so naturally. Andrew's struggled a little bit more." AP Photo/Gary Wiepert

INDIANAPOLIS -- Victory Field, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates Triple-A affiliate, is several blocks away Lucas Oil Stadium where quarterback Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts call home.

It's at Victory Field that Indianapolis Indians manager Dean Treanor has begun opened the door for teaching Luck the proper way of sliding, though.

"I'll gladly do it," Treanor said. "I'm ready if the Colts ever call. In fact we've got a sliding clinic coming up in Indianapolis. And if it's raining we'll have the tarp out to slide on."

The Colts have light-heartedly joked in the past that they should bring in a baseball coach or player to instruct Luck how to slide because he doesn't go down to the ground gracefully when he attempts to do it.

They're more serious about it following a 2015 season in which Luck suffered a lacerated kidney on a scramble play against the Denver Broncos in Week 9 and also dealt with rib, shoulder and abdominal injuries. Owner Jim Irsay said Luck needs to do a better job of getting to the ground.

"One thing we did talk about internally was to make sure he does have the slide down," Irsay said. "If we have to bring in a baseball player or baseball coach to talk about sliding. (Seattle quarterback) Russell Wilson is a baseball player, and when he slides, he does it so naturally. Andrew's struggled a little bit more, but I think that's just his competitive nature saying, ‘Do I shut it down or get those 2 extra yards?' His competitive nature just gets to him.

"But he has to stay healthy. That's part of his legacy. You can't be a great player in this league if you don't stay healthy. Everyone knows that. You just can't. I think about Bob Sanders. What a great, great player. ... But those injuries and the shortness of his career, that's a tough, tough thing."

Improving the offensive line remains the top priority for the Colts. But Luck also needs to do a better job of protecting himself. His competitive nature, which is part of the reason why he was the No. 1 overall pick in 2012, has him believing he has running back abilities and can outrun defensive players when he breaks the pocket. He's built like a tight end (6-4, 240 pounds), which is why he has no problem lowering his shoulder to try to run over an oncoming defender.

But learning how to slide is not an easy task, according to Treanor. He pointed out how some major league baseball players still struggle to slide properly even though they've been playing the sport most of their life.

"You'd really be surprised at how many guys don't know how to do it safely," Treanor said. "There's a technique to it. You want to keep your hands up and go down on your left (butt) cheek. That's why everybody goes through sliding training before the season starts, big leaguers all the way down to the minor league players."

Last season finally proved that Luck is no longer invincible against injuries after not missing a snap due to injury during his first three seasons. He's the present and the future of the Colts. They can't afford to be without him again for an extended period of time.

"Andrew has the responsibility to make educated decisions to protect himself," Irsay said. "He knows that, and as we go forward, we want to see him at times slide, throw it away, keep him out of harm's way. We have to do a better job protecting him, too."

It's yet to be determined if the Colts will set Luck up with a sliding instructor, but coach Chuck Pagano believes Luck missing those nine games last season will cause him to think about going down or throwing the ball away rather taking unnecessary hits in the future.

"He understands that great quarterbacks in this league, the Mannings, the Bradys, and I can go on and on about those guys -- availability is really, really important," Pagano said. "There's a fine line there and you don't want to ankle weight him, handcuff him to a certain point, where you are taking that ability away from him. It's natural. It's instinctive. It's in his DNA. It's how he plays the game.

"But at the same point, there's a time and a place where the play is over, know when to say when, throw it away, get on the ground, slide, all those types of things. I think having missed the significant amount of time that he missed last season was a great learning experience for him moving forward on how to play, stay available and stay healthy."