When Major League Baseball decided they were going to resume play, there was the opportunity for high-risk players to opt-out of the season while still receiving their pay and service time. Since we are talking about professional athletes, that didn’t apply to many players, but it was an option for Adam Duvall — a Type-1 diabetic. However, that is not going to stop him from participating in the 2020 campaign.
The former All-Star outfielder had this to say over the weekend about his decision to play despite the circumstances,via David O’Brien of The Athletic.
“My mindset has been ‘go’ the whole time,” said Duvall, 31, who did some research, talked to some doctors, was comfortable with what he learned and set his mind to stay in shape while waiting for the call to come back. “I tried to stay as ready as I could, as far as being in game shape and ready to go as soon as the bell rang. I was planning on playing the whole time. I just enjoy playing the game.”
Two years ago, missing Adam Duvall might not seem like much of a blow. The Braves acquired the powerful right-handed bat at the trade deadline in 2018, hoping he could add some pop to their outfield group. He had hit 15 homers and had 61 RBIs for the Reds before the trade, despite an abysmal .205 batting average. However, his first season in Atlanta couldn’t have gone worse.
Duvall appeared in 33 games for the Braves and went 7 for 57 at the plate (.132 average) with no home runs and just a single extra-base hit. Still, Atlanta opted to bring him back for 2019, and even though he began the year in AAA, he became one of the team’s unsung heroes.
After smacking 30 homers for the Gwinnett Stripers, Duvall continued raking at the major-league level, hitting .267 with a .882 OPS and ten homers in just 41 games. Then he came up with two of the Braves’ biggest hits of the postseason — a pinch-hit two-run homer off of Jack Flaherty in Game 2 and the go-ahead single in the ninth inning of Game 3. As streaky as Duvall has been over his career, there’s no telling what the Braves will get from him in 2020, but with Nick Markakis choosing to opt-out, the depth he brings is desperately welcomed, especially with the DH making its way to the NL.
Following Duvall’s first season in Atlanta, it looked like there was no way that trade would ever be viewed as a win for the Braves. But after what he did last year in the postseason and what he can offer in this shortened season, I’d say the deal was well worth it, considering what Matt Wisler and Lucas Sims have done since the move.
Duvall will enter his final year of arbitration next year before becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2022. With the Braves outfield talent on the farm, it’s unlikely he is apart of the team’s long-term plans, but that could change if the DH makes its way to the National League permanently, which seems like a sure thing in the near future. However, no matter how things play out, he will be fondly remembered in Braves Country for his willingness to risk his well-being for the team and the game.