Aaron Nola grew up in and played his college ball in Louisiana. He has a 2.80 ERA in 23 career starts in August and a 2.70 ERA in 22 career starts in July. Not only is he OK with warm weather, all the evidence we have suggests that the Philadelphia Phillies righty prefers pitching in the heat.
So if COVID-19 forces the 2020 season to be played in Arizona, Florida or another warm-weather climate, you won’t have to ask the 26-year-old twice. Heck, if the season has to be played in Alaska, Nola may not be set up as well for success, but he’s down.
“It’s going to be hot either way,” Nola told ESPN‘s Jesse Rogers. “It’ll be hot here in Florida. It’ll be hot in Arizona. I don’t mind the humidity more than the dryness. Wherever they want to play, I’ll play.”
MLB has yet to decide on a specific plan to move forward with in the 2020 season, though ESPN‘s Jeff Passan reported Monday that baseball is “increasingly optimistic” that there will be some sort of season. The sport has yet to decide to focus in on a specific plan to move forward, though Passan first broke the Arizona plan, USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale reported on an Arizona-Florida plan and R.J. Anderson of CBS Sports even noted that baseball has considered a plan that would involve playing in Arizona, Florida and Texas.
Under any plan that baseball moves forward with, three realities will have to be accepted – 1) Most teams won’t be playing at their home stadiums; 2) There won’t be fans at games; 3) Players will lose some or all personal freedoms in terms of who they can interact with outside of their teammates.
Nola, like most players, appears to be willing to adjust to playing home games in a different region of the country and doing so without any fans in attendance. His thoughts on the idea of whether a player quarantine when games aren’t being played could work seem less fleshed out.
“I don’t know,” Nola continued. “Only God knows what this is going to come to and when it’s going to end. I feel like the first part is staying safe. We all want to play, but safety is first. As time goes on, we’re going to get more answers, and hopefully they become more obvious, and this pandemic begins to pass.”
Atlanta Braves lefty Cole Hamels – which still feels weird to say – has said he’s willing to do whatever it takes to play in 2020, including quarantining away from his family for an extended period. Others have been less open to the idea. Phillies righty Zack Wheeler and Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout have both pushed back against the idea in part because both are expecting their first children to be born this summer. Kaycee Sogard, the wife of Milwaukee Brewers infielder Eric Sogard, tweeted “Absolutely 100 percent no” in regards to any plan that would keep him from seeing his family for an undetermined stretch of time.
In any scenario, MLB players will be asked to make tremendous sacrifices to make a 2020 season happen. Whether there’s a solution that can be reached that gets enough player support to go forward remains to be seen.
Whether there’s a shortened season or no season at all, players like Nola, Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto, who are theoretically in their primes, are missing out on the chance to put up a full season’s worth of production to add onto their career totals.
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