There are always going to be players who exceed expectations, especially at the beginning of the season. In the case of the 2013 Red Sox they have two, in outfielders Daniel Nava and Mike Carp.
Nava, who received more playing time in left field with David Ortiz out and Jonny Gomes DH’ing to open the year, made the most of his opportunity hitting .289 with four home runs and 16 RBIs heading into Wednesday.
Nava was also part of two of the biggest moments of the season thus far, starting with his three-run home run, which broke a scoreless tie and gave the Sox a 3-1 win over the Orioles in the team's home opener. Then, in an even bigger moment, he clubbed another three-run homer in the eighth inning to propel the Sox over the Royals, 4-3, in the first game at Fenway Park after the Boston Marathon bombings.
“Knowing everything that went into the day for the city, for us to get the win, it came in a special way, special fashion,” Nava said. “It made it all that more important.”
Four home runs through 22 games isn’t bad for a player who hit just seven in his first 148 major league games combined.
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Another player exceeding expectations is Mike Carp. He played sporadically early on, but with outfielder Shane Victorino out with a lower back injury in recent days, Carp has received a chance. In just 26 at-bats he is hitting .458, with eight of his 11 hits going for extra-bases all while slugging an insane .958.
Despite being dropped down in the order and playing less than he did with the Mariners last season, Carp doesn’t mind at all.
"It's been really exciting to watch -- a lot of fun ballgames, a lot of at-bats coming your way. You're not worried about getting three, you might get five today," Carp told the Providence Journal last week. "That's been tough to come by the last few years in Seattle. To be a part of this has been pretty amazing."
With Victorino potentially going on the DL, the Red Sox are faced with a dilemma of who to play, and when.
Nava has assumed the role in right field, which leaves Gomes, who has been playing better of late, and Carp splitting time in left. The Sox could also call Jackie Bradley Jr. back up to the majors with an open roster spot, but the organization remains inclined to having him play everyday with whatever team is he with.
Having this many options for the corner outfield spots is a prime example of a good problem to have.
Follow Metro Red Sox beat writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter @hannable84