Daniel Nava improving at Pawtucket, ready for another chance in Red Sox outfield
Last season was a breakout campaign for Red Sox outfielder Daniel Nava. He posted a line of .303/.385/.445, which had him among the best American League outfielders, trailing just Mike Trout and Torii Hunter in batting average and just Trout in on-base percentage.
Much like the Red Sox as a team, 2014 hasn’t been too kind to the switch-hitter as after hitting .149 in 17 games, Nava was sent down to Triple-A Pawtucket where he’s been since April 23.
“Things are good,” Nava told Metro Boston Monday. “Everyone here is trying to get better and work on their games so I’m just another guy trying to work on stuff that I’m not as good at as I’d like to be in.”
In 20 games, Nava is hitting .275/.370/.435, but has improved in areas manager John Farrell pointed to at the time he was sent down, which included hitting from the right side of the plate – as he had just two hits in 21 at-bats. He has gotten better as he’s batting .227 against opposing left-handers.
“I don’t know,” Nava said when asked if he feels like he’s doing better from the right side. “I don’t pay attention to numbers, but I’m feeling more comfortable.”
While Nava is using the time at Pawtucket to improve on perceived weaknesses, he hasn’t lost sight of his overall game and what made him a Major Leaguer to begin with.
“I didn’t come down here working on one particular thing,” he said. “I had a lot of things that I needed to address. I’ve been working on getting more comfortable and start to feel a little bit better in the box and I feel like I’ve done that.”
Coming off a season like he had in 2013 and winning a World Series, Nava could be looking at the current Red Sox team with their recent struggles – particularly in the outfield – and wonder why he hasn’t been called back up. But the 31-year-old hasn’t done any of that.
“No, it doesn’t matter. Just from the perspective of the more you focus on that [type of thing] the less you focus on the field,” said Nava. “I mean, I pay attention in terms of how the team is doing, but I don’t sit there and breakdown what a guy is doing in terms of offensively and defensively, because when you start doing that you take your energy away from playing baseball. Those aren’t my decisions anyways.”
As it stands currently, the Red Sox outfield has a number of players under-performing, including left-handed hitting Grady Sizemore, who is batting .227/.297/.348 and just .239 against righties. Nava hit .322 against right-handers last year.
“It is not my decision what happens from here,” said Nava. “That’s why I play the game and that’s why they make the moves, but we have a lot of guys down here grinding and I’m just trying to the same thing they do, just grinding it out.”
After failing to make his college team (Santa Clara), Nava battled back and played in the Golden Baseball League before the Red Sox signed him. He then endured three full minor league seasons before making his debut in 2010. Because of that, he has an appreciation for the game that some other players might not have.
“I’m having fun. We have a really good group here and I’m having a lot of fun,” he said. “Baseball is fun and that’s the way it should be. No one here has animosity towards situations there (in Boston) as a lot of other guys have been up and down and deserve to be up and we’ve realized some of those things are just outside of your control and you have to go play the game.”
Follow Metro Red Sox beat writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter: @RyanHannable