Change in plans: Sox replace Gomes with Nava at DH

Change in plans: Sox replace Gomes with Nava at DH
April 3, 2013, 6:00 pm
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(AP Photo)

NEW YORK -- For the second game of the regular season, John Farrell made only one change of substance: Daniel Nava repalced Jonny Gomes as the team's DH.

Nava, a switch-hitter, was placed second in the batting order, with another switch-hitter, outfielder Shane Victorino, dropped from second to seventh with the Red Sox facing righty Hiroki Kuroda.

Farrell had said all spring that the DH role would be filled by multiple players until David Ortiz returns to the job.

Gomes was the choice in Monday's opener against lefty CC Sabathia. Gomes has traditionally hit lefties well (.895 OPS career), while struggling some against righties (.732).

Nava, though a switch-hitter, has distinct splits, too, faring much better from the left side against righties -- hence his presence Wednesday night against Kuroda.

Farrell said he would make out his lineup card based on matchups for the time being "until we get into a stretch of everyday games and who might need to get off their feet for a day or two. But that would be the intent as we go through a six to seven or eight consecutive days.''

Gomes said during spring training that he wanted to oportunity to play against right-handers, and Farrell said that chance will come.

"The one thing Jonny was pretty clear about in spring training,'' said Farrell, "was maybe simplifying his approach against right-handers, and being more clear with what he was looking for in certain counts . . . I thought he swung the bat well against righties in spring training.''

Nava has some experience in the minors in the DH spot, but before Wednesday night, had only had 12 career at-bats as a DH in the majors.

"A couple of years ago, I wasn't very comfortable [in that role],'' said Nava. "But after 2010, 2011, when I was in Triple A, that's when it first started that I was probably going to have to be a DH guy. Since then, it's gotten a lot easier. A couple of years ago, it was really foreign to me.''

Like most players, Nava has developed something of a routine to keep himself both occupied and prepared in between at-bats.

"It's not something that is set in stone every time,'' he said. "It's more like a revolving door of what's working for me on a given day.''

Wednesday night temperatures were expected to dip into the high 30s, making it even more of a challenge for Nava.

"The good thing is,'' he said, "that we have the availability to come in [to the clubhouse] and get some stuff done to stay loose and stay warm. It's much more challenging at other levels (of organized baseball) where you don't have that [facility].''

Nava hasn't been told what to expect on an everyday basis, so he's waiting to see how the DH at-bats are divvied up.

"I think they're probably just seeing how things develop,'' said Nava, "with all the moving parts we have. I haven't been told anything [definitive] yet.''