Nava adjusting nicely to right field

Nava adjusting nicely to right field
April 28, 2013, 9:00 pm
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BOSTON -- Before this season Daniel Nava had appeared in just two games in Fenway Park’s expansive right field. He also played right in parts of six games at the Red Sox spring training home, which replicates Fenway’s dimensions.
 
With regular right fielder Shane Victorino's back ailing, Nava made his fourth consecutive start in right field on Sunday afternoon. Before this four-game stretch, Nava has also played right in four other games this season, including three at home.
 
Manager John Farrell said he has no qualms about writing Nava’s name as the right fielder on his lineup card.
 
Against the Astros on Sunday, Nava rewarded Farrell’s faith – not once but twice.  Nava made two impressive catches, both times victimizing Astros lead-off hitter Robbie Grossman. Nava reeled in Grossman’s fly ball with an over-the-shoulder basket catch to end the second. And Nava’s diving catch in the ninth, with a runner on, ended the game.
 
Which of the two catches was more difficult?
 
“Probably the over the shoulder,” Nava said. “Just because I knew the wall was coming up. I think the other one was just instincts to run after a ball and you’re hoping to get there. The other one I knew that I was going to be underneath, but the last quarter of the way I was just like, ‘Fall in my glove.’”
 
Despite the two highlight-reel catches, the move to right field for Nava, who was primarily played left field in his time with the Sox, has been an adjustment.
 
“It’s been different,” he said. “You go from one of the shortest distances and areas you have to cover in left to one of the largest you have to cover in right, and that distance and difference along makes it a little more challenging. I’m always looking at [coach] Arnie [Beyeler], looking at [center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury], trying to make sure I’m in the right spot, but also, I’m not giving away too much space. I like it, but it’s taken a while to adjust to differences of just the vastness of the area you got to cover.

“I saw [Astros right fielder Rick] Ankiel had that play where he came in it looked like he kind of lost it in the sun. I was talking to Ells and [Dustin Pedroia] saying, ‘Hey, guys there’s some balls where if it’s in that perfect spot, I’m going to need your help.’ So  you can look good one day and then the next day, you look like you never played baseball before.”
 
That has not been the case for Nava, who appreciates his manager’s vote of confidence.
 
“That’s good,” he said. “Hey, it’s fun. We’re playing well. It was huge for [John Lackey] to come out today and get that second start, especially after how the first one ended. He pitched great. So when you have a lead like that it makes it easier to go after balls and take some risks. When the game’s close you  probably wouldn’t do that.”
 
Nava also went 2-for-4 with a double and matching a career high with  three runs scored in the Sox 6-1 win over the Astros, and is now hitting .301, with a .535 slugging percentage, and .407 on-base percentage.
 
He made his big league debut in 2010, then spent all of 2011 in the minors before getting called up again last season. He returned to the minors with the goal of working on his defense. It was a learning process, and it’s paid off.
 
“I think it was just attention to detail,” he said. “Coming up through the minors, I put it on the offense not the defense. And it’s something you got to do on both sides to make it, and then hopefully stick. So you learn from your mistakes, I guess.
 
“I think it was the first year I was up and then I went down and I sat with our outfield coordinator, I think he’s the first base coach for the Mets now, Tom Goodwin. And he said, ‘Hey, there’s some stuff you got to work on. Let’s just try and hammer it out. It’s something you can do.’ And he was really positive about it. So him and actually [Sox bench coach] Torey [Lovullo] was the manager at the time. So those two guys really made it an emphasis for me.”

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At 18-7, the Sox have the best record in baseball. They have won five straight, 13 of their last 16, and 15 of 20 since April 7. They are off to their best start since posting an identical record in 2002. With 18 wins they have matched their most wins in April, which they also posted in 1998 and 2003.

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The Sox’ four-game sweep of the Astros was the Sox first in a series of that length since July 7–\11, 2011, against the Orioles. The Sox hit .362, going 51-for-141 with 28 runs scored and 23 extra-base hits against the Astros.

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The Sox have swept three series this season, matching their total of 2012. The Astros were swept for the third time this season, and have lost seven of their last nine. ... The Sox are now 11-2 and 7-0 at Fenway all-time against Houston.
       
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The Sox went 7-3 on the 10-game homestand, and are 11-5 at home this season. Their 11 home wins are the most in the AL, one behind Cincinnati for the major league lead.

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Joel Hanrahan made a rehab appearance for Pawtucket. He went one scoreless inning, giving up a walk, throwing 17 pitches, eight for strikes. He is expected to be activated Tuesday, with fellow reliever Daniel Bard likely returning to Double-A Portland to clear a roster spot.,,, Lefty reliever Craig Breslow also made a rehab appearance with Triple-A Pawtucket. He went two-thirds of an inning, giving up a run on a hit and two walks with one strikeouts, throwing 26 pitches, 13 for strikes.

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David Ortiz went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI, extending his hitting streak to a career-best 20 games since July 2, 2012.  He is the fourth Sox player to hit safely in 20 or more games over two seasons since 1916. Manny Ramirez was the  last to do so, in 22 games between 2001-02. ...Ortiz’s eight-game hitting streak to start the season extends his career best. ... Ortiz leads the majors with 16 hits since he was activated on April 20, according to STATS.

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Mike Carp went 2-for-3 with a double, RBI, a run scored and a walk and is now batting .526, going 10-for-19 with seven extra-base hits in his last eight games ... Jacoby Ellsbury was caught attempting to steal second base in the second inning, snapping a streak of 11 consecutive steals.