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."

Cardinals pull away late for 7-2 victory over Red Sox

Cardinals pull away late for 7-2 victory over Red Sox

The Cardinals broke open a close game with four runs in the last two innings against Red Sox relief prospect Chandler Shepherd and went on to a 7-2 exhibition victory over Boston yesterday at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers.

Red Sox-Cardinals box score

The loss dropped the Sox to 1-3 for the exhibition season.

Boston had jumped on top, 1-0, on an RBI single by Mitch Moreland in the bottom of the first, but St. Louis countered with two runs in the second and one in the third, all against starter Brian Johnson. It remained 3-1 until the Cards touched Shepherd for two runs in the eighth and two in the ninth. The Red Sox added their final run in the bottom of the ninth when catcher Jordan Procyshen, who spent last season at Single-A Salem, hit a sacrifice fly.

Moreland, Xander Bogaerts and Chris Young each had two hits for the Red Sox. who also got scoreless relief from Teddy Stankiewicz, Noe Ramirez, Robby Scott, Kyle Martin and Brandon Workman. It was Bogaerts' last game before leaving to compete for The Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic.

The Sox host the Yankees on Tuesday at 1:05 p.m.

Dustin Pedroia taking cues from Tom Brady to extend his career

Dustin Pedroia taking cues from Tom Brady to extend his career

Dustin Pedroia is no stranger to injuries. That's a big reason why he's no longer a stranger to the sometimes peculiar practices of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

In an interview on WEEI's "Bradfo Show," Pedroia told Rob Bradford that he's been taking cues from the five-time Super Bowl-winning QB to help extend his playing career and make his body healthier and more durable.

“I understand what he does and know what he does. I think it’s awesome,” Pedroia told Bradford. “There’s a reason why he’s successful at his age (39), and he looks better now than he did when he first came to the league. You have to be smarter as you get older and learn different styles -- the way to train and the way you take care of your body to be able to perform and stay on the field. It doesn’t matter what sport you’re playing. He’s definitely got that figured out.”

Pedroia, of course, played the entire 2013 World Series-winning season with a torn ligament in his thumb. He's battled through various other lower body and hand injuries over the past few seasons, as well. But in 2016, he had his best season in recent memory, posting his highest OPS since 2011, as WEEI notes.

Part of that is with his own take on the Brady approach -- which focuses more on pliability and resistance training than extensive, heavy weight lifting -- and a healthier overall lifestyle, something Brady is notoriously infamous for having.

"There’s tons of ways to take care of your body. It’s not just get in the weight room and throw weights around,” Pedroia explained. “As you get older, the human body can’t take the pounding if you’re going in there and power lifting. When you’re younger, you can handle some of that. But as you get older, you got to be smarter. Sometimes less is more -- whether that’s weight or reps or whatever. You’ve just got to be smart. And eating wise, that’s a big part of recovery. If you put the right foods in your body, you’ll heal faster if you’re injured or recover faster. It’s like a car, man. Put bad gas in, bro. It’s not going to be the same as good gas.”

He hopes the approach can, at the very least, keep him moving for quite some time.

“I plan on living until I’m 100," he said. "So we’re not even halfway home."