Nava breaks homerless streak with two-run shot in fourth

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Nava breaks homerless streak with two-run shot in fourth

When Daniel Nava hit the first pitch he ever saw in the major leagues for a grand slam on June 12, 2010, he knew it wasn't going to be that easy.

But there was no way Nava could have known that it would take almost two years before he hit another one.

And yet, after failing to hit another one that rookie season and remaining in the minors for all of 2011, Nava's career homer total stood at one.

Until the fourth inning Monday night.

With Cody Ross on base with a leadoff single, Nava, hitting righthanded, drove a ball into the Monster Seats for a two-run homer, ending what had become a homerless drought that had stretched to 171 at-bats.

"I didn't think it was gone," said Nava after the Red Sox had completed a 6-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners. "Knowing how big the wall is and seeing some other balls guys have hit, I didn't feel like it compared (to others). I thought it was going to go off The Wall and then I was surprised that it barely squeaked over. But I'll take it. I'm not going to complain."

After all, when it's been nearly two years since your last one, any homer is welcome.

"We were joking in the dugout," said Nava. "They were congratulating me and I said, 'I'm just glad that I hit more than one.' A couple of years ago, (current teammate Kelly Shoppach) was with the Rays and I stepped into the box and he said, 'Hey, you're the guy who hit that home run on the first pitch.' I said, 'Yeah.' Then he said, 'You really haven't really done anything since.' I started laughing. I couldn't really say anything.

"So when I hit that one (Monday night), I thought, 'Thank God, I'm not going to have just one.' I wasn't expecting one or trying to. It just happened."

Home run or not, Nava has been in the middle of a torrid stretch at the plate. In the five games he's played since being promoted from Pawtucket, Nava's had 20 plate appearances and reached base 15 times on seven hits, six walks and two hit-by-pitch.

"It's been phenomenal," said Bobby Valentine of Nava's hot stretch. "Every hitter when they're in that zone says they're seeing the ball well. He's fouling off the tough pitches and putting a good swing on strikes. That's a hitter's wonderland. He's in it and I hope he stays in it for a long time."

"I hit a stretch (earlier this season) where I was pressing too much," said Nava. "I had to simplify things. Not press, just relax and let the game come to me. I'm really trying to go one at-bat at a time and not worry about the big picture -- the rest of the season, getting called up, stuff like that.

"It makes it a lot simper."

Does uncertainty for Carson Smith mean Red Sox need bullpen help?

Does uncertainty for Carson Smith mean Red Sox need bullpen help?

BOSTON — Tyler Thornburg’s gone for the season and there’s really no telling when the other set-up man the Sox expected to help in 2017, Carson Smith, will be back.

The Sox have already made inroads, if minor ones, in bolstering their third-base situation and rotation. Smith’s situation leaves a question of whether the Sox will need to pursue help in the bullpen as well.

There's not an easy answer to settle on at this point.

For one, the timetable with the right-hander Smith — whose shoulder has bothered him on the way back from Tommy John surgery — isn’t clear.

“He's in a no-throw [time] through the weekend,” Sox manager John Farrell said Friday afternoon at Fenway Park. “He'll be reevaluated on Monday to hopefully initiate a throwing program. He's responding favorably to the treatment. He continues to rehab as he's been. We have not closed the book in a sense on anything Carson can contribute this year.”

What does this year mean, though? Will they be able to know by July, by the trade deadline?

“Still too early to tell,” Farrell said. “We thought he was days from starting his rehab assignment after his last live BP session in New York [on June 6]. Unfortunately, that was put on hold for the time being. To get into any kind of timeframes, timetables, I don't know that any of us can predict that right now.”

The Sox relievers have done extraordinarily well without either Thornburg or Smith. Can that continue without reinforcements? The bullpen’s ERA entering Friday was 2.94, the second best mark in the majors. Its innings total, 217, was the second. lowest in the majors. 

So it’s not like the entire group is about to collapse from fatigue. But a guy like Joe Kelly, for example, isn’t someone the Sox want to use back to back.

It’s a young group and ultimately an inexperienced group. But Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has already fallen into the trap of trading for premium set-up men twice, and that’s a dangerous road to pursue again. Perhaps a smaller trade makes more sense.

“Well, at this point, we’re open minded to help,” Dombrowski said when asked if he was targeting either third-base or relief help. “I’m not going to get into specifics at this time on what else we’re looking for. Keep an open mind on a lot of ways on which we can improve. We have guys coming back and both the spots, I think Carson Smith is very important to us and our bullpen has pitched great. The other day, we struggled but that was one of the few times we really struggled all year. 

“I think Carson still has a chance to come back and help us this year.”

Red Sox claim right-hander Doug Fister off waivers

Red Sox claim right-hander Doug Fister off waivers

Right-handed starter Doug Fister, who opted out of his contract with the Angels, has been claimed off waivers by the Red Sox, CSN Red Sox Insider Evan Drellich has confirmed.

The news was first reported by Chris Cotillo of SB Nation, who writes that Fister, 33, will join the Red Sox immediately.

Fister opted out of with the Angels after three Triple-A starts in Salt Lake City, where he allowed seven runs on 16 hits with five walks and 10 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings. 

With Eduardo Rodriguez and Brian Johnson on the DL, the Red Sox need immediate starting pitching help. Triple-A Pawtucket call-up Hector Velazquez made a spot start earlier this week in the fifth spot behind Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, David Price and Drew Pomeranz. 

Fister will receive $1.75 million in the majors from the Red Sox, with $1.2 million available in additional incentives, according to Cotillo. 

Fister has pitched eight seasons in the majors, including 2016 with the Astros, going 12-13 with 4.64 ERA in 180 1/3 innings. His best season was 2014 with the Nationals (16-6, 2.41 ERA).