Padres: Austin Nola played through a fractured foot last summer

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

One of the biggest critiques of today’s professional athlete is that they’re ‘soft’. They take too many days off, sit out with minor injuries and are perfectly content putting their needs ahead of their team’s. Yeah, so San Diego Padres catcher Austin Nola is most definitely not one of those guys.

A new report from The Athletic (subscription required) details the fact Nola played with a fractured bone in his foot after coming over from Seattle last season – and went out of his way to make sure teammates didn’t know about it because he wanted to be on the field with the team.

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Nola got off to a scorching start with Seattle, putting up a .903 OPS in the first 29 games of the season. Long praised for his mental makeup, he dove in headfirst as soon as the trade was official, immersing himself in all the videos and data he could get his hands on in hopes of learning as much as possible about his new battery mates.

Offensively, Nola never got back to what he’d done early in the year with the Mariners. But it’s not hard to see why given he was playing through a fractured foot essentially the entire time. He suffered the injury after fouling a ball off his foot roughly a week after joining San Diego.

Padres know what they have in Austin Nola

Behind the dish, Nola threw out an absolutely ludicrous 55 percent of base stealers in the shortened 2020 season and ranked in the top 10 percent of all MLB catchers in terms of pitch framing. 

The catcher of the future for the Padres, Luis Campusano, could arrive in the big leagues as soon as this summer. The team is heading into 2021 with a combination of Nola and switch-hitting backup Victor Caratini as their primary catching options, but it won’t be long before Campusano comes knocking.

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When that day comes, he’ll have an outstanding mentor in Nola. At 31, he’s not a young man in the baseball world, especially for a catcher. But in the way the coaches, pitchers and other teammates talk about him, you can tell he’s something special.