Nava trying his hand at first base for Red Sox


Nava trying his hand at first base for Red Sox

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.

NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945


NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945

CHICAGO -- Cursed by a Billy Goat, bedeviled by Bartman and crushed by decades of disappointment, the Chicago Cubs are at long last headed back to the World Series.

Kyle Hendricks outpitched Clayton KershawAnthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras homered early and the Cubs won their first pennant since 1945, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 Saturday night in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series.

The drought ended when closer Aroldis Chapman got Yasiel Puig to ground into a double play, setting off a wild celebration inside Wrigley Field, outside the ballpark and all over the city.

Seeking their first crown since 1908, manager Joe Maddon's team opens the World Series at Cleveland on Tuesday night. The Indians haven't won it all since 1948 - Cleveland and Cubs have the two longest title waits in the majors.

"This city deserves it so much," Rizzo said. "We got four more big ones to go, but we're going to enjoy this. We're going to the World Series. I can't even believe that."

All-everything Javier Baez and pitcher Jon Lester shared the NLCS MVP. Baez hit .318, drove in five runs and made several sharp plays at second base. Lester, a former World Series champion in Boston, was 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers.

Deemed World Series favorites since opening day, the Cubs topped the majors with 103 wins to win the NL Central, then beat the Giants and Dodgers in the playoffs.

The Cubs overcame a 2-1 deficit against the Dodgers and won their 17th pennant. They had not earned a World Series trip since winning a doubleheader opener 4-3 at Pittsburgh on Sept. 29, 1945, to clinch the pennant on the next-to-last day of the season.

The eternal "wait till next year" is over. No more dwelling on a history of failure - the future is now.

"We're too young. We don't care about it," star slugger Kris Bryant said. "We don't look into it. This is a new team, this is a completely different time of our lives. We're enjoying it and our work's just getting started."

Hendricks pitched two-hit ball for 7 1/3 innings. Chapman took over and closed with hitless relief, then threw both arms in the air as he was mobbed by teammates and coaches.

The crowd joined in, chanting and serenading their team.

"Chicago!" shouted popular backup catcher David Ross.

The Cubs shook off back-to-back shutout losses earlier in this series by pounding the Dodgers for 23 runs to win the final three games.

And they were in no way overwhelmed by the moment on Saturday, putting aside previous frustration.

In 1945, the Billy Goat Curse supposedly began when a tavern owner wasn't allowed to bring his goat to Wrigley. In 2003, the Cubs lost the final three games of the NLCS to Florida, punctuated with a Game 6 defeat when fan Steve Bartman deflected a foul ball.

Even as recently as 2012, the Cubs lost 101 times.

This time, no such ill luck.

Bryant had an RBI single and scored in a two-run first. Dexter Fowler added two hits, drove in a run and scored one.

Contreras led off the fourth with a homer. Rizzo continued his resurgence with a solo drive in the fifth.

That was plenty for Hendricks, the major league ERA leader.

Hendricks left to a standing ovation after Josh Reddick singled with one out in the eighth. The only other hit Hendricks allowed was a single by Andrew Toles on the game's first pitch.

Kershaw, dominant in Game 2 shutout, gave up five runs and seven hits before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth. He fell to 4-7 in the postseason.

The Dodgers haven't been to the World Series since winning in 1988.

Pitching on five days' rest, the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner threw 30 pitches in the first. Fowler led off with a double, and Bryant's single had the crowd shaking the 102-year-old ballpark.

They had more to cheer when left fielder Andrew Toles dropped Rizzo's fly, putting runners on second and third, and Ben Zobrist made it 2-0 a sacrifice fly.

The Cubs added a run in the second when Addison Russell doubled to deep left and scored on a two-out single by Fowler.


Maddon benched slumping right fielder Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.

"Kershaw's pitching, so I wanted to get one more right-handed bat in the lineup, and also with Albert I don't feel like we're losing anything on defense," Maddon said. "I know Jason's a Gold Glover, but I think Albert, given an opportunity to play often enough would be considered a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder, too."

Heyward was 2 for 28 in the playoffs - 1 for 16 in the NLCS.


Kerry Wood, wearing a Ron Santo jersey, threw out the first pitch and actor Jim Belushi delivered the "Play Ball!" call before the game. Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder and actor John Cusack were also in attendance. And Bulls great Scottie Pippen led the seventh-inning stretch.