Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Navarro's 'surreal' power surge lifts Cubs
By Jesse Rogers
CHICAGO -- A bat that ends up in the stands in a baseball stadium is usually a souvenir for a lucky fan, but this was no normal bat.
Chicago Cubs catcher Dioner Navarro had already hit two home runs with it on Wednesday against the Chicago White Sox. With one out and two on in the seventh inning, Navarro had a chance for his first three-homer game of his career.
But after swinging at a pitch, his lucky bat went flying into the stands near the Cubs dugout. He had to get another one -- at least for a moment.
"I wanted that bat back," Navarro said after the Cubs' 9-3 victory. "As soon as they throw it back, I swapped it for the other one."
And then Navarro went to work against Sox hurler Brian Omogrosso. His first two home runs had come from the right side, off starter John Danks. The righty Omogrosso turned the switch-hitting catcher around to the left side.
"It crosses your mind a little bit after you hit two, especially having limited playing time," Navarro said. "I had two, and it was the possibility of hitting three, and fortunately I got a good hitter's count, 2-0, and I went for it."
Did he ever. Navarro hit a no-doubter out to right field after his first two might have been wind-aided to left. It brought his teammates in the dugout to their feet, completing a historic day for the Cubs backup catcher and big soccer fan.
"He put the team on his back did his best [Lionel] Messi with a hat trick," Anthony Rizzo said. "That last one was a bomb."
Navarro could hardly believe it himself. He had never had a multihomer game in his career, let alone three long balls.
"I hit two in Little League," he said with a laugh. "I have never done that in my life. It's a great feeling. It's so surreal right now."
A solo shot in the second inning was followed by a two-run homer in the fourth, and then Navarro walked, giving him one more chance from the opposite side of the plate.
"As soon as I hit it, I knew it was gone," he said.
It earned him six RBIs and a pie in the face, along with a Gatorade shower from Rizzo and Matt Garza after the game.
"I think he's second on the team in homers in like 59  at-bats," manager Dale Sveum said.
The success in limited playing time isn't going to change Navarro's role. Sveum had to make that clear after his big day.
"I see using him the way I've been using him," he said. "Castillo is our starting catcher, let's not get carried away. ... It's just nice to have a backup catcher doing the things that he does and handling pitchers."
And how will Navarro celebrate becoming the first Cubs catcher since George Mitterwald in 1974 to hit three out? He's going to Game 7 between the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings.
"I will enjoy myself," he said. "I'll probably have a few days off and take advantage of it."
And he'll use his lucky bat when he plays again. But what if it breaks?
"I'll cry," Navarro said, laughing.