Daniel Nava knew exactly what to do on the first pitch he saw in the big leagues, but what to wear to work was a different story.
(all photos, except when noted, courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)
As Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com wrote in early July, Nava committed a minor breach of major league protocol on a Red Sox road trip when he arrived at the clubhouse wearing shorts. That had always been allowed in the minors, so Daniel’s wardrobe malfunction was understandable but embarrassing.
“It was stuff that I’m not going to do again, but at the same time, you live and you learn,” Nava told me. “I wish I hadn’t done that, but now I know. I guess next time I should err on the safe side. Rather safe than sorry right?”
Shortly after Daniel’s minor flub, PawSox players were no longer allowed to wear shorts to the stadium.
“It’s such a tough job that we all have as staff members here because we want them to go up there and be perfect but it’s impossible,” Pawtucket manager Torey Lovullo said. “Daniel has mastered the hard part and that’s going out there and performing. He is one of the nicest, most-compassionate kids that I’ve ever met and the fact that he wore shorts is not an indication that he’s not a big leaguer. But we talk about having ‘feel’ and know what it’s going to take to fit into Tito’s clubhouse.”
Nava certainly didn’t look out of place in the batters box. In 29 games with Boston, Daniel batted .286/.381/.451 with 10 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, and 16 RBI. But the 27-year-old outfielder says he never felt totally comfortable.
“I really don’t think that I ever felt ‘normal’ up there because everything is so dramatically different,” Nava said. “The emphasis on winning is huge, and I was constantly learning as I was going. I got more comfortable, but I would never say that I sat there and thought, ‘Now I’m good to go.’ It definitely kept me on edge.”
“There was the nervousness and anxiety of going up there and being a major leaguer and all of the little things that nobody understands until you walk into that clubhouse for the first time,” Lovullo said. “Once you go up there and feel that and experience the intensity of going out and trying to win each and every day, you come down here with a new attitude.”
In 7 games since returning from Boston, Nava is 8-for-26 (.308) with 2 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, and 7 walks (.441 OBP). He is virtually guaranteed to return to the Red Sox when rosters expand in September if not sooner.
“I want to get back there, and I think any player who has been up is going to say the same thing,” Nava said. “I do know that there is stuff that I have to work on, so I’m trying to focus on that stuff and realize that if I get another shot, I want to have those things locked-down.”
And next time, he’ll know what to wear.
* * * * *
If you’ve read this blog in the past, you have undoubtedly enjoyed the brilliant photos provided by the “Official Unpaid Photographer of Heard if From Hoard” Kelly O’Connor.
Kelly has graciously allowed me to pick and choose from her website and I can honestly say that I am dazzled on a daily basis when I go looking for a photo to match my content.
In addition to the great photography, Kelly has come up with a fantastic idea for a potential giveaway item at McCoy Stadium: The Josh Reddick Magic Hair Game.
It’s based on the old Wooly Willy toy in which metal filings are moved about with a magnetic wand to add features to a cartoon face.
In the Josh Reddick version, you start with a buzz-cut and a clean-shaven face and let the fun begin.
You can use the magnetic pen and metal filings to add a Mohawk.
Or a bushy mustache/soul patch combo.
Or just the mustache.
Or a scruffy beard.
Or long sideburns . . . you get the picture.
(The Mohawk and bushy mustache/soul patch photos are courtesy of Louriann Mardo-Zayat. All others are courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)
In case you’re wondering, Reddick loves the idea. This MUST happen in 2011.
By the way, Josh has missed the PawSox last seven games with a strained oblique on his left side, but he could be back in the lineup on Thursday night in Toledo.
“Josh had a good day yesterday,” Torey Lovullo told me before Wednesday’s game against the Mud Hens. “He threw from the outfield to all of the bases, he took good batting practice, and if he continues on that path today, he should be in the lineup on Thursday. We need him. This team misses him. We’ve had a lot of guys going out there without being able to have a day off, so he’ll be a welcome addition.”
Thursday’s game starts at 7:00. I hope you’ll join us for radio coverage beginning with the pre-game show at 6:45 on the PawSox radio network and pawsox.com.
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