Catching Up With Nolan Jones, Part Two

This is a continuation of a Facebook Live Q & A with Nolan Jones. Part One can be found by clicking HERE!

Q: What advice would you give a kid playing baseball?

A: First, have a blast.  There is nothing I can tell you that will make you better or worse. Know that you’ll make mistakes. You’ll learn mechanics as you get older. Watch baseball on TV. Ask coaches for help and watch what your teammates are doing.

Q: What is the most important skill to learn early?

A: Beyond learning any particular skill, it’s important to learn to play the game the right way. Once when I was 10, I had a 3-0 count. My dad was the third base coach, and he gave a sign to take the next pitch. Instead, I swung and popped up to the pitcher. I was the third out. But I didn’t run to first. After the inning, my dad told me to put my helmet back on and run to first. Initially, I refused because I was embarrassed, but eventually, I did it. I learned the hard way how to play the right way.

Q: What defensive drills do you practice for third base? 

A: Defense is all about repetition. Take as many groundballs as you can. As a kid, I didn’t understand that I had to practice those things that make me uncomfortable, and that I know I’m not good at.

Q: How do you refine your swing?

A: Practice your swing every day. Don’t worry about home runs and launch angle. Strive for line drives to the back of the cage.

Q: Have you always walked a lot?

A: I have to give my dad credit. When he pitched to me, he tried to strike me out. Now, I know what I’m good at as a hitter and what I don’t do as well. I look to cover certain parts of the plate for certain pitches.

Q: Do you work on opposite-field power?

A: Yes. It gives me an advantage when I can drive the ball when it’s low-and-away or just away instead of just fouling off those pitches.

Q: How do you get out of a rut mentally?

A: You have to trust yourself and the work you put in. So first, you gotta put in the work. You can’t go out and think about what you did the last at-bat. Focus on the next pitch, but I’m still working on it. As a third baseman, you can’t let your hitting affect your fielding. You have to be locked in for every pitch because it’s easy for a ball to get by you if you’re distracted because of your hitting struggles.

Q: If you weren’t playing baseball what would you do?

A: I’d play hockey. Injuries drove me away, I missed a lot of school because of several concussions. At one point during my sophomore year, my mom had to read my books to me.

Q: Who was your favorite hockey player as a kid?

A: Eric Lindros and John LeClair. [Philadelphia Flyers players]

Q: Who is your favorite hockey player now?

A: My brother and Wayne Simmonds. [former Flyer and current Buffalo Sabres player]

Q: What’s your most memorable journey?

A: When I was invited to the draft. We have a tight-knit family, and for the draft, we rented out a restaurant and hosted 200 friends and family. The Futures Game was one of the best experiences I could’ve dreamed of. The game being played in Cleveland with the fans was even better.

Q: What’s it feel like to hit a home run?

A: I wish it happened more. It’s a super cool feeling. It’s incredible to see your teammates and fans cheering for you.

Q: Do you have your own Lake County [Indians low-A affiliate] bobblehead?

A: Yes. I hooked up my family with them first. I finally got mine.

Q: What current MLB player have you been compared to?

A: Cody Bellinger, but I don’t think I’ve agreed with any of the players people have compared me to.

Q: What pitcher past or present would you love to face?

A: I have to say Nolan Ryan. I was named after him. It would not be a fun at-bat at all.

Q: Have you met anyone you were starstruck by?

A: I had the opportunity to go to the Perfect Game All-American Game in high school. I had the chance to be on the field for batting practice before the Padres/Reds game played later that night. I met Aroldis Chapman and couldn’t believe I was standing in front of this guy. I loved meeting the Indians and being in Spring Training with them. I still look up to those guys. I got the opportunity to talk to Mike Trout when he was at third base during a Spring Training game.

Q: What did you learn from Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez?

A: When I got called up, Tito [Indians manager Terry Francona] told me to ask a million questions, be annoying about it, but learn. Those guys worked the hardest. They worked the right way and did things the right way. Lindor walked right over to me when he saw me in the locker room the first time. He showed me that he’s a leader.

Q: How do you like signing autographs?

A: I like it, I really do. I loved getting them as a kid but wasn’t into the autograph scene. It’s so cool for me to be able to sign someone’s thing and make their day. There is a fine line though. It does get frustrating seeing the same faces waiting outside for you to sign, knowing they are going to sell what you sign. You have to say no because you know they don’t have good intentions. I’m the last to stay on the field to sign an autograph and I try to be the first out to sign. 

Q:  Do you collect anything?

A: I’m not a big collector. I have every hat I have worn in the minor leagues and a ball from every league. Also, I collect my pink Mother’s Day bats and give them to my mom.

Q: If you weren’t playing sports, what would you be doing?

A: Hmm. I don’t think about this. Maybe I’d try to be a doctor. I like to help people. My sister has been talking about being a pediatrician. That has caught my eye. But I haven’t really thought about not being in sports.

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