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Nola joins Mariners, ending long Minors journey

@goodforball
June 16, 2019

OAKLAND -- Austin Nola’s Minor League journey, which spanned eight years and 773 games, became worth it on Sunday, when the Mariners recalled him from Triple-A Tacoma to fill the roster spot of traded slugger Edwin Encarnacion. Seattle manager Scott Servais immediately gave the 29-year-old Nola his Major League debut.

OAKLAND -- Austin Nola’s Minor League journey, which spanned eight years and 773 games, became worth it on Sunday, when the Mariners recalled him from Triple-A Tacoma to fill the roster spot of traded slugger Edwin Encarnacion.

Seattle manager Scott Servais immediately gave the 29-year-old Nola his Major League debut. Nola started at first base, which became vacant when Encarnacion was swapped to the Yankees on Saturday, and batted ninth. He went 1-for-2 with one run before Omar Narvaez pinch-hit for him in the seventh inning.

Following the Mariners’ 6-3 victory over the A’s, Nola took stock of his remarkable day as he packed his equipment bag in the Coliseum’s visitors' clubhouse.

He made his Major League debut. He recorded his first hit, a third-inning single that scissored past Oakland second baseman Jurickson Profar, who dived for the ball in vain. Moreover, Nola did all this with his father, A.J., in attendance on Father’s Day.

“Phenomenal,” Nola said. “No, it doesn’t get any better. I can’t wait to see my father after and give him a hug.”

Nola earned his promotion by recording a slash line of .327/.415/.520 with seven home runs and 37 RBIs in 55 games with Tacoma.

“He has made some major swing adjustments and got some good results,” Servais said.

Word of Nola’s callup spread quickly throughout his family, which includes his younger brother, Phillies right-hander Aaron Nola. Aaron received the news from his mother via text message.

“Oh, man. It’s one of the better days that I’ve had, and probably one of the better days that my parents have had, too,” Aaron told MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki. “A good present for my dad on Father’s Day.”

For years, the Nolas have supported Austin’s tireless efforts to climb the last professional step into the Majors. He spent most of the last four seasons in Triple-A, never quite receiving the opportunity he sought. Suffice it to say that Austin's career path differed sharply from that of Aaron, a 2018 National League All-Star.

“I wanted to get emotional, man,” Aaron said. “I’ve been through it with him, in the offseasons. I know how hard he works. Every year he always stays super positive through it. Always has the confidence. He always says, 'I know I’m going to get there. I’m going to stay in ball until I get there.' Not many guys do that. I don’t hear that from many guys. Playing seven full years in the Minor Leagues? It’s tough. Fortunately, I didn’t go through it like he did, but I’ve seen it through his eyes, and have been with him through a lot of it. It’s just super exciting.”

Chris Haft has covered the Major Leagues since 1991 and has worked for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @goodforball.