Duvall helps Reds by solving medical, offensive mysteries

Published 1:28 am Monday, July 25, 2016

Jim Walker



CINCINNATI — Over the past few years left field has been an unsolved mystery for the Cincinnati Reds.

Four years ago Adam Duvall was struggling and his problem was quite a mystery.

When Duvall solved his mysterious problem, he helped to finally solve the Reds’ problem.

After graduating from Butler Traditional High School in Shively, Ky., Duvall played college baseball at Western Kentucky, Chipola College and later at the University of Louisville where he was the team captain his senior year in 2010.

It was that same year that the Louisville native was drafted in the 11th round draft by the San Francisco Giants.

Duvall was known for his home run power in the minor leagues but in his third professional season he started the year feeling weak and tired. Not only that, but Duvall — who now stands 6-foot-1, 220-pounds — mysteriously lost 20 pounds.

The mystery of weight loss and lack of energy led Duvall to seek medical advice and the blood work provided him with the diagnosis: Type-1 diabetes.

“Looking back I showed signs throughout the games in Louisville that I would get tired, I’d get jittery and my body was telling me I needed sugar. I would go get some Gatorade or something and I’d be fine and able to finish the game. But looking back I didn’t know that those were some signs. I do now,” said Duvall.

Diabetics have the option of injecting insulin or using a pump that automatically injects insulin when needed. Duvall opted for the pump due to his work and uncertain schedule for periods of time to check his sugar levels.

“I was concerned when I got on the pump. It was my first spring training and I was nervous about going low when I was out in the field,” said Duvall.

“Being the new guy I didn’t want to be the guy calling timeout and running into the dugout to get some Gatorade. That was the biggest thing I was nervous about, but I was relieved that we found what the problem was and we could go from there.”

Duvall carries the pump in his back pocket and fans have noticed the slight bulge.

“I have fans out in left field all the time wherever I go asking me if I have my cell phone in my back pocket. They’re yelling down at me. It hasn’t been too much of a problem.”

The insulin has made a big difference. Duvall hit 30 home runs and drove in 100 runs just 134 games for the Giants Class A San Jose team in 2012. Two years later he made his major league debut in San Francisco.

In 2014, Duvall was called up by the Giants and he played in 28 games with 73 at-bats and hit .192 with three HRs, two doubles and five RBIs.

Then came 2015 and the Giants were in a pennant race. Needing pitching, they reluctantly traded Duvall to acquire the Reds’ Mike Leake.

Irontically, Duvall’s first career home run — and hit — came against the Reds off Leake in 2014.

Duvall played in 27 games last season and batted 64 times with a .219 average but had five home runs, two doubles and nine RBIs.

In spring training this season, Duvall and Scott Schebler were battling for the left field job. They began the season in a platoon situation, but Duvall eventually began to create an obvious distance between them with his offensive production.

So impressive was his first half of the season, Duvall was selected to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game.

On the season, Duvall is batting .245 with 23 home runs and 64 runs batted in. He is tied with Zack Cozart for the team lead with 22 doubles. He has a .535 slugging percentage that leads the team.

Duvall is not just basking in his success. He wants to raise awareness for the disease and inspire youths to realize they can succeed despite their illness.

“I always thought that it could be something I could work for, using my purpose here in the big leagues and using it as a platform,” said Duvall.

“I think it fits me well and obviously that I’m living with it. I think it’s something that could use a little bit more exposure and a little bit more information. I’m excited to work with that.”

Duvall feels fortunate that his condition has been resolved.

“You know, 10 or 20 years ago I don’t know what would have happened. I could have been out of the game maybe. But thanks to research it’s come a long way and I’m excited for that,” he said.

There has been a light side to Duvall’s condition. He said it happens on a regular basis.

“I have fans out in left field all the time wherever I go asking me if I have my cell phone in my back pocket. They’re yelling down at me. It hasn’t been too much of a problem,” said Duvall.

Now the only mysteries Duvall has to solve these days are opposing pitchers. And with his results this season, it looks like he’s solved that, too.