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How did Arenado run this ball down?

@harding_at_mlb
August 2, 2020

DENVER -- For a third baseman, the Rockies’ Nolan Arenado is a pretty darn good wide receiver. We’ll explain. During offseason training, Arenado pretends he is catching a touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone. His trainer throws a football, and Arenado makes the classic over-the-head sliding catch

DENVER -- For a third baseman, the Rockies’ Nolan Arenado is a pretty darn good wide receiver.

We’ll explain.

During offseason training, Arenado pretends he is catching a touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone. His trainer throws a football, and Arenado makes the classic over-the-head sliding catch that brings fans to their feet.

During Saturday night’s 6-1 victory over the Padres, Arenado made a play that would have made any gridiron coach envious.

Box score

In the fifth inning, Arenado started from a slightly shifted position against San Diego left-handed hitter Trent Grisham and ranged 111 feet -- 37 yards, if you really dig football -- into left-field foul territory to make an over-the-head catch of a popup.

No, Arenado is not looking to pack away his seven National League Gold Glove Awards (in as many seasons in the Majors) and jump to the NFL. He’s just being his super-prepared self.

In addition to the footage (or yardage), Statcast calculated just 6.3 seconds of opportunity time. The numbers are nice, but Arenado was not willing to rank it above his 2015 famous catch while diving onto the tarp in San Francisco.

“I don’t really calculate when I’m running out there to go make a play,” Arenado said. “I have no idea. But from what I hear, I haven’t [traveled that far for a play].

“I think the play in San Fran on the tarp was close to it.”

The Rockies led, 4-0, at the time of Saturday's play. Rockies lefty pitcher Kyle Freeland, who held the Padres scoreless for six frames while striking out four and yielding just two hits, said the play seemed like more than one out to him.

“It shows the kind of player that he is,” Freeland said. “There are probably a lot of ballplayers out there that could see how far that ball was traveling, and how much it was tailing toward the seats, that would maybe pull up and not go 100 percent to it. That’s not Nolan.

“Making that play was incredible, and you could just feel the air taken out of the Padres’ wings.”

Arenado responded with modesty. “I don’t know about that. It was another out ... I think it helped Freeland lock in more.”

Rockies manager Bud Black saw Arenado’s play was part of a defensive show.

“I’ll go on record,” Black said. “This was one of the best defensive plays you’ll ever see, when you really think about it.

“Nolan made three great plays. The catch in foul territory was phenomenal. The ball to his left in the shift was a great play. Trevor [Story, the shortstop] diving to his right on a line drive, Trevor up-the-middle dive, flip to [Chris] Owings, double play -- ‘Mac’ [Ryan McMahon] pick on the other end."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and like his Facebook page.