Duvall receives warm welcome in hometown

Duvall receives warm welcome in hometown

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Left fielder Adam Duvall didn't just walk into the Reds Caravan stop at Louisville Slugger Field as a hometown-raised Major League player. The packed room recognized that Duvall did much more in 2016.

Duvall not only hit 33 home runs with 103 RBIs last season -- his first as a full-time big leaguer -- but he also made the National League All-Star team and took part in the Home Run Derby. His defense made him a finalist for the NL Gold Glove Award.

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Therefore, it was no surprise that Duvall received the loudest applause from fans and took a lion's share of the queries during the open microphone Q&A session.

"It's cool. This is where it all started," Duvall said. "It's where a lot of work was put in. I have a lot of memories in this city, and it's fun."

Duvall, 28, was born and raised in Louisville, and he still calls the city home in the offseason. He also played two years at the University of Louisville.

At the 2015 non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Reds acquired Duvall and prospect Keury Mella from the Giants for pitcher Mike Leake. Duvall appeared in 25 games for the Reds' Triple-A affiliate in Louisville, not a lot but enough to enjoy playing in front of friends and family.

Entering 2016, Duvall was simply battling for a roster spot, expecting to platoon in left field with Scott Schebler.

"They were going to share the position or one player was going to take the position and make it their own. That's exactly what Adam did," said Reds manager Bryan Price, who was also at the Louisville stop for the southern leg of the annual caravan.

Duvall batted .241 with a .297 on-base percentage last season. In 2017, he doesn't have the pressure to fight for a job. But Duvall has used the offseason at home in Louisville to prepare himself for subtle improvement of his numbers at the plate.

"I think the biggest thing that I want to do is have a good approach with two strikes," Duvall said. "That's really the only thing I'm changing this offseason. I want to do a better job with two strikes. Fifty percent of your at-bats will have two strikes. You have to be able to hit."

Duvall will be making another return to Louisville Slugger Field with the Reds soon. Following Spring Training in Arizona, the Reds will visit and play their Triple-A affiliate at 6:15 p.m. ET on March 31.

"I grew up here. It means a lot to me to come back to the city and play," Duvall said. "It will be fun, that game at the end of March."

Price also felt it was significant for Louisville and some of its alumni, which includes Joey Votto, Billy Hamilton, Homer Bailey, Devin Mesoraco and more. Louisville has been a Reds affiliate since 2000.

"It's good to come back to Louisville because so many of our players played here as a Triple-A stop on their way to the big leagues," Price said. "Any time you go to an affiliate, especially one where you played as a young Minor Leaguer, there's definitely a benefit to it. It's always wonderful to come back to the affiliates and re-connect with the people that you remembered from your times earlier."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.