On Wednesday, April 29, Rockies season ticket holders were invited to submit questions via email and then sit in on a Zoom chat with Nolan Arenado and Jack Corrigan. This comes after Arenado’s conversation with ESPN’s Marly Rivera on Monday. Below are some highlights from their visit.
Arenado said that he’s better now than he was when the shutdown started. “I’ve been enjoying my work,” he said “focusing on the positives.”
He recognizes that when baseball does begin, it’s going to be a new experience: “When baseball starts, you’re going to get this feeling of ‘I know this feeling,’ but at the same time, it’s going to be weird.” While no one can predict the format in which baseball return, Nolan says he and his teammates will “take the challenge and be ready to go.”
Arenado has kept himself busy during the pause. He’s been working out with his brother Jonah, his cousin Josh Fuentes, and Trayce Thompson — a friend and outfielder in the Arizona Diamondbacks system (and younger brother of Golden State Warriors’ guard Klay Thompson). Arenado says they hit every day and trust each other to stay healthy. They are also continuing to use their pitching machine, which he says “has been a big help to us.”
Arenado also revealed that he’s had trouble finding a field where they can work out: “We’ve been kicked out of a few fields since we got started,” he said. This includes El Toro High School, where his name is memorialized on the wall. Nolan and his crew were evicted by a security guard.
“Kinda funny,” he said, “to get kicked out of my own high school.”
The Arenado family is continuing with their traditional Whiffle ball games and are in the midst of a tournament.
“It gets feisty out there,” Nolan said. “Everyone is looking forward to Sunday. It’s actually been pretty fun. We’re staying active.”
Arenado was asked what he thinks a season will be like without fans. He said, “When I first heard that, I thought ‘Where are we going to find that motivation?’ That will be an adjustment.”
Then he added, “I just want to play baseball.” He also recognizes that the coming season will require constant adjustments. “It’s going to be tough,” he said.
Playing without fans
On a lighter note, Arenado expressed concerns about being heard in a stadium without fans.
“We’ll have to watch what we say,” he joked. Corrigan commented that the announcers had similar concerns about having their broadcasts heard by players. Arenado joked, “You might say, ‘That was not a quality at bat, Nolan’” and then looked up at the ceiling, mimicking the way a player would look up at the press box.
Arenado, like his teammates, is doing charitable work during the downtime. He and other Rockies have been talking with Denver high school students who have lost opportunities during the COVID0-19 crisis. Nolan says he understand their loss.
“They have it worse than I do,” he said. “Graduation day is a big deal, and to have that taken away is a big deal....that’d be really tough.”
He continued, “Honestly, I know how it feels to have something taken away and be on hold, but a lot of people’s adjustments are tougher than mine...I feel bad for them, and I want them to know I’m thinking about them.”
Arenado is hopeful that things soon will “start to open up a bit more.”
Student of the game
A constant student of the game, Arenado has been watching lots of YouTube videos during the suspended season.
“I love looking at former players and players that are still playing,” he said. “I like to learn from them. I’m always comparing at what age were they doing this, and am I doing that.”
Arenado mentioned that he had been watching videos of Albert Belle, Manny Ramirez, and Albert Pujols. He joked that he hoped he hoped he could match Belle’s strike-shortened season of 50 home runs. “I’ve still got to find ways to get better,” he said.
A ticket holder asked Arenado about the toughest pitcher he’s faced. “There’s just so many,” he said. “[Jacob] DeGrom is probably the best pitcher in the game. He’s good. He’s so tough for me. There are so many of them. He’s unbelievable.”
When asked to name a Hall of Fame player he’d like to share the diamond with, he said, “That’s a great question. Maybe Greg Maddux. It’d be fun to play behind him. A pitcher like that would be really cool.”
Arenado was also asked if he’d interacted with many celebrities outside of baseball.
“Not so many celebrities,” Arenado said, adding, “Kobe Bryant is probably one of my favorite athletes, including baseball. Not a day’s gone by when I haven’t thought about him. My whole family loves him.” He noted that he really hasn’t been “star struck with other celebrities,” but he does tend to be star struck when meeting baseball players, citing Derek Jeter as an example.
Arenado addressed reports from early in his career that he was not strong defensively. “I always had good hands,” Arenado said. “My arm was good. My feet were good, but I made up for it with my hands and my arm.” He cited Troy Tulowitzki as a model and says he became more conscious about what he was eating.
Arenado then added, “It takes awhile to get that label off of you.” He urged patience with young players, saying people are “too quick” to judge them. “That label’s hard to escape,” he said. “It was a lot of work, a lot of agility, a lot of ground balls.”
“I think the big thing is a lot of ground balls,” Arenado said when giving advice to developing players. “I think it’s just constant work. When you’re young, you just want to hit, and you have to remember to play both sides of the game. Take pride in both.”
This is apparent in Arenado’s play as well as that of high school teammate Matt Chapman. “We’ve always had good players come through our area, just scrappy ball players,” Arenado said, “Defense was something we’ve always been told to take pride in.” He pointed out that Chapman “will only get better.”
To wrap up
The Rockies have been keeping busy during this suspension. Arenado says, “I’ve talked to [Trevor] Story a lot. . . . I’ve talked to [Matt] Holliday. I check in and see how guys are working.” The players also send video to teach other. According to Arenado, when spring training ended, the players were beginning to feel good about their game, and then were suddenly stopped. Since then, the players have kept training. Nolan mentioned, “I know [Ryan] McMahon’s working hard. [Charlie] Blackmon’s always working hard. We’re trying to win, so we need guys to get after it.”
Finally, Arenado was asked what he was grateful for, a question he answered at length: “You realize what you have. I’m thankful for what I have. My family, they’ve been healthy.”
He added, “I’ve got good people around me who are pushing me and want me to grow. I continue to not take for granted what I’ve got. This is difficult, but there’s a reason for this.”
As the conversation came to a close, Corrigan asked Arenado to imagine how he would feel when he finally got to play again. He said, “It’s gonna be big. It’s gonna be like, finally we’re here. We’re back.” Then he said, “The best feeling in the world is going to be when we get to play in front of fans.”