Nava trying his hand at first base for Red Sox

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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.

Napoli: Red Sox and his agent only had 'small talk' about reunion

Napoli: Red Sox and his agent only had 'small talk' about reunion

BOSTON -- Of course, the Rangers' Mike Napoli didn't mind the idea of replacing David Ortiz. He loved playing in Boston.

There just was never much chatter that way last offseason, when Napoli was a free agent after his Indians took the Cubs to seven games in the World Series.

"I think my agent had maybe a small talk or something [with the Red Sox], but I don't think it ever would have happened," Napoli said Tuesday afternoon as he returned to Fenway Park with Texas. "I mean, don't get me wrong, I would have loved to come back. But, I mean, it all worked out. I'm glad to be where I'm at now. Because I knew everybody here [with the Rangers]. I didn't have to start over again."

Napoli played with the Rangers in 2011 and '12, and was traded by the Sox to Texas for the last few months of the 2015 season.

He was hopeful the Sox -- his team from 2013 to midseason 2015 -- would be among the clubs to come calling last winter.

"Oh, yeah," he said.

But he wasn't optimistic it was going to happen. And it didn't.

"To be honest with you . . . Cleveland was my first priority," he said. "I just had a World Series run [with the Indians] and we didn't win it. And then Texas was there [in the bidding, along with] Minnesota."

The Rangers wound up giving Napoli, 35, a one-year deal for 8.5 million with an $11 million club option for next season or a $2.5 million buyout. He's hitting just .188 entering Tuesday, a subpar figure, but has 10 home runs.

"We started off pretty slow, but winning 10 straight will help," Napoli said of the Rangers' recent tear. "[Winning] 11 of 12, we've been playing better. I think we kind of lost track of who we are. We got some guys struggling, still trying to find themselves and kind of got away from doing it together as a team, but we got back to doing that. It's been going pretty well."

Part of the World Series championship team of four years ago, Napoli loved being in Boston in 2013, and he enjoys being back now.

"What we were able to do in 2013, obviously, it's something I'l never forget and something I cherish," Napoli said. "I love coming back here to play."

When it was noted there's been so much turmoil since Napoli left -- the talk of Tuesday was manager John Farrell's job security -- he was unsurprised.

"You got to have thick skin to play here," Napoli said. "You're expected to win a championship every single year. But that's what I loved about playing here, is that people were on you. For me, I loved it. A lot of people probably couldn't do it.

"I knew it in my heart that I went out there and I played as hard as I possibly could every single time . . . I know you're not going to be perfect and live up to everyone."

Red Sox recall Sam Travis, send Velázquez back to Pawtucket

Red Sox recall Sam Travis, send Velázquez back to Pawtucket

BOSTON -- On the list of Red Sox problems, finding a platoon partner for Mitch Moreland at first base isn't high on the list. But the others -- third base, fifth starter -- aren't solvable at the moment, so the Sox turned to one they think they can solve.

Today they recalled Sam Travis from Pawtucket, most likely to provide relief for Moreland against left-handed pitching. Travis' path to the majors was delayed by a knee injury that cost him a good chunk of the 2016 season -- otherwise, odds are good he'd have been here by now -- but he signaled his readiness by recovering from a 5-for-36 start with a sizzling .344 average in 90 at-bats since April 22 that includes six doubles and three home runs. His OPS in that span is .909.

Most importantly, Travis crushes left-handed pitching. He's hit .358 (93-for-260) against them in his professional career, and is .414 (12-for-29) against them this year. 

Hector Velázquez was sent back to the PawSox to make room for Travis, ensuring another roster move later this week. After Kyle Kendrick's failed attempt to take control of the fifth spot in the starting rotation, Velázquez was called up and given a shot in Oakland last Thursday night. He allowed six earned runs over five innings, failing the test. And thus the search for a fifth starter -- at least until David Price returns -- continues.

Price will make a rehab start in Pawtucket tomorrow and could return to Boston after that, but the Sox will need a pitcher for Saturday's game against Seattle. Even if Price is cleared to return to Boston, he won't be able to pitch Saturday on two days' rest.