Friday, October 25, 2013
Nava's journey from 'Outlaw' to WS starter
By Gordon Edes
ST. LOUIS -- Seven years ago, Daniel Nava was cut by the Chico Outlaws of the independent Golden Baseball League. He didn't play that season.
The Outlaws kept Nava the next season, when he was the 2007 GBL MVP, and then sold him to the Red Sox for $1 while the Sox were playing the Indians in the ALCS. The Outlaws eventually went out of business after the 2011 season.
Nava, meanwhile, will be the starting left fielder in Game 3 of the 109th World Series Saturday night. Some stories only get better. This is one of them.
Not that Nava hasn't already had his share of memory-makers that would make any player's personal highlight reel, beginning with a grand slam on the first pitch he saw in the big leagues, on national TV in Fenway Park on June 12, 2010.
Daniel Nava, right, scored on a sacrifice fly in Game 1 after doubling as a pinch hitter.
But just this season, he has tacked on a few others:
• making an Opening Day roster, at age 30, for the first time in his career
• winning the home opener with a three-run home run
• hitting another game-deciding, three-run home run 12 days later in the first game the Sox played after the Boston Marathon bombings
• four four-hit games
• reaching base in 41 consecutive starts
And now this, manager John Farrell returning Nava to left field in place of Jonny Gomes, the combination of Nava's left-handed bat against Game 3 St. Louis CardinalsSt. Louis Cardinals starter Joe Kelly and the bigger left field in Busch Stadium swaying Farrell's decision. The Sox had been 7-0 in the postseason in games started by Gomes until losing Game 2 4-2 on Thursday night in Fenway Park. Gomes also is one for his past 15 and batting .156 (5-for-32) overall in the postseason, though he was in the middle of several key rallies in earlier rounds.
Nava last started in Game 4 of the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers, going 1-for-3 with a single. He has had just two at-bats since, both coming in the World Series as a pinch hitter. He doubled off Cardinals reliever Carlos Martinez in the eighth inning of Game 1 and came around to score, then struck out on a 99 mile per hour fastball from Trevor Rosenthal to end Game 2.
Ten days will have passed between starts. What does he do to stay sharp?
"Video games," he deadpanned before adding, "I don't own any video games.
"I've tried to stay in the game mentally with a couple of at-bats and take myself through an at-bat as if I was doing it. Keep the routine the same. You have to be ready at any time."