Apr 8, 2013, 5:55 PM EDT
Daniel Nava was the unlikeliest major leaguer in any starting lineup today. And it’s safe to say a lot of Red Sox fans were disappointed to see him starting over Jackie Bradley Jr. in left field in the Fenway Park season opener.
Nava, though, rewarded manager John Farrell’s show of faith with a homer over the Green Monster that scored all of Boston’s runs in a 3-1 victory over Baltimore. It was his second homer on the young season.
To say that Nava took a rare path to the majors would be underselling it. The kid weighed 70 pounds as a freshman in high school. He failed to make the Santa Clara University baseball team as a walk-on, settling for a gig as an equipment manager until he could no longer afford tuition and left for junior college. After a successful year of baseball at the College of San Mateo, he returned to Santa Clara, this time on a full scholarship, as a senior and hit .395.
Of course, Nava still went undrafted. He tried out for the independent Chico Outlaws of the Golden Baseball League in 2006 and failed to make the team. Trying again in 2007, he made the team, hit .371 with 12 homers in 256 at-bats and got himself signed by the Red Sox.
After a couple of years in the minors, Nava was called up by the Red Sox and became the second major leaguer ever to hit a grand slam on the first pitch he ever saw. And then he went almost two years without another major league homer. After he hit a modest .242/.351/.360 in 161 at-bats as a rookie in 2010, the Red Sox left him in the minors for all of 2011. Summoned back last year, he hit .243/.352/.390 with six homers in 267 at-bats. This year, he made the team out of spring training for the first time and has two homers and six RBI in four games.
Now, the 30-year-old Nava is the very definition of a fringe major leaguer. For all of his hard work, he may yet find himself back in Triple-A in a couple of months. Even so, it’s incredible that he’s come this far. From 70-pound weakling to college equipment manager to indy league tryout cut to Boston Red Sox outfielder qualifies as an unprecedented path.
For more on Nava’s background, see Brian MacPherson’s feature in the Providence Journal from 2010.
Sep 23, 2014, 2:04 PM EDT
Probably to announce Sandy Alderson’s contract extension.
Sep 23, 2014, 1:47 PM EDT
J.J. Hardy is on the verge of a big payday, but will it be from the Orioles?
Sep 23, 2014, 1:33 PM EDT
The Braves could’ve fired their manager, but didn’t. Why?
Sep 23, 2014, 1:15 PM EDT
“I wouldn’t be afraid to use him at any point in the game, really.”
Sep 23, 2014, 12:59 PM EDT
The Tigers can’t beat out the Orioles now, so the O’s will start the playoffs at home.
Sep 23, 2014, 12:02 PM EDT
But signing a guy to a multi-year deal after his first above average year in seven seasons is not exactly a winning move.
Sep 23, 2014, 11:12 AM EDT
No matter what happens to him for the rest of his life, Guilder Rodriguez can say he was a major leaguer.
Sep 23, 2014, 10:49 AM EDT
Great Moments in Security Theater
Sep 23, 2014, 10:06 AM EDT
Really, I can’t make any sense of this.
Sep 23, 2014, 9:45 AM EDT
With 180 innings pitched, Dan Haren’s $10 million option kicked in.
Sep 23, 2014, 9:10 AM EDT
He has won 19 or 20 games four times in his last five seasons.
Sep 23, 2014, 8:40 AM EDT
Get your tall boots on, boys, because the Braves president is shoveling.
Sep 23, 2014, 8:23 AM EDT
Hitting the cutoff man is overrated
Sep 23, 2014, 6:29 AM EDT
Twelve games, six shutouts. And the Mariners and Indians lose ground.
Sep 22, 2014, 11:36 PM EDT
Jeter has caught fire with only days remaining in his career.
Sep 22, 2014, 10:23 PM EDT
Danny Duffy tossed six scoreless innings in his return from left rotator cuff inflammation.
Sep 22, 2014, 9:36 PM EDT
Sergio Romo and Shawon Dunston “exchanged heated words with raised voices” before Bruce Bochy intervened.
Sep 22, 2014, 8:55 PM EDT
Shoemaker came out of nowhere to go 16-4 with a 3.07 ERA and 124/24 K/BB ratio in 136 innings as a 27-year-old rookie, including a 9-1 record and 1.49 ERA in 67 innings since late July.
Sep 22, 2014, 8:21 PM EDT
Tomas, 23, could reportedly command a $100 million contract.
Sep 22, 2014, 7:55 PM EDT
Former major league pitcher and current player agent Dave Stewart is viewed as the overwhelming favorite for the job.
- John Schuerholz defines “The Braves Way.” And it’s a pretty big pile of crap. 49
- And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights 24
- Frank Wren fired as Braves GM, John Hart to take over on an interim basis 42
- AND DOWN THE STRETCH THEY COME! Sizing up the final week of the regular season 36
- Must-Click Link: Derek Jeter opens up. Seriously, he really does. 46
- And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights 58
- Must-click link: Tommy Harper and the Red Sox’ racist past 58
- Settling the Score: Saturday’s results 34
- Geddy Lee’s baseball obsession makes it really hard for me to hate Rush (124)
- It certainly looks like Barry Bonds’ criminal conviction is going to be overturned (107)
- Ron Washington claims he resigned because he cheated on his wife (103)
- Giants CEO Larry Baer thinks advertisements on uniforms are coming soon (89)
- Umpire ejects jackwagon fan heckling Bryce Harper in Atlanta last night (85)