FORT MYERS, Fla. With the Red Sox still looking for a back-up first basemanoutfielder, Daniel Nava is one of a handful of players who have been working out at first base in the last few days.
I havent played there in pro ball, Nava said. I played there back in college. Theres a lot to learn. So I got some good guys throwing me some stuff. But you cant fake live reps. So that's the next thing hopefully that goes well too. But the same thing, its new. So Im just trying to go one day at a time.
From what Ive been told its just something that the Sox are interested inThey said you got a shot and it can help the team out.
Nava, who arrived in camp in early February, has been working at first with Lyle Overbay, Mitch Maier, and Mauro Gomez as the Sox search for an in-house back-up for Mike Napoli, who was diagnosed with avasucalar necrosis in both hips this offseason. Overbay, who is a veteran of 12 big league seasons and 1,222 games at first base, played outfield early in his minor league career before moving to first.
I talked to him about his transition from the outfield to the infield, Nava said. That helped me a lot. And certain things that you cant replicate until you get game experience, which is good to know because its different compared to playing first base in college, as you would obviously assume with playing first base in the big league and the quality of hitters. So it helped me out a lot, set me in a little more peace. But still its new and that first experience is always going to be hopefully better than it could be for the worst.
In his two big leagues, 2010 and 2012, Nava has appeared in 130 games (110 starts) in left and four games (two starts) in right. In six minor league seasons, he has appeared in 204 games in right, 192 in left, four in center and even pitching in one game (giving up three earned runs in two-thirds of an inning for a 40.50 ERA with a home run and three walks). He knows pitching is not in his future, just as he also knows that his big league career is still sufficiently new that he cant put any kind of a label utility player, back-up first baseman, bench guy -- on it.
I cant consider myself in that regard because this is still new, said Nava, who turns 29 on Feb. 22. Its not like Ive played three years at first and three years in the outfield. Its just something were trying out. But if thats what it takes, thats what it takes. It doesnt really matter to me. If thats what they need me to do, its fine.
As far as I know its just, We want you to take some stuff at first and we kind of want to see how you look first. The Sox had no clue. So I understand that they cant really say too much when they dont really know what Im going to do or if Im going to be stumbling all over myself. So it hasnt been too much communication in that regard.
But having been in the organization since signing with the Sox as a minor league free agent in 2008 out of independent baseball gives Nava a certain comfort level with the process.
Yeah, I think it does, he said. Because at least they know compared to where I came in 2010 to last year defensively, theyre like, Hey, theres hope that he actually can maybe block a ball or keep a ball in front of him. And obviously that helps when youre in the organization, if I was new coming here, I think it would probably be less likely if that happened, I guess.