What’s gotten into Daniel Nava?
(Photos courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)
In his last 14 games, the 28-year-old outfielder has blasted 7 home runs in 68 at-bats (after hitting 3 HR in his first 348 AB). Since Nava always pays close attention to nutrition, his power surge cannot be attributed to suddenly increasing the spinach or salmon in his diet. In fact, Michael Bowden is the only player on the team that rivals Nava for the title of “healthiest eater.”
“I smoke Bowden – he’s got nothing on my healthy eating habits – I would like that to be on the record,” Nava said with a laugh. “All joking aside, Bowden is actually a very healthy eater. Nothing has really changed for me. I don’t try to hit home runs so when they do go out it’s a nice surprise. Sometimes you just go through streaks and I’m just trying to be as relaxed as possible. That’s one thing this year has really taught me because I was pressing a lot in the beginning. It’s been a good thing to learn that that’s what I need to do to put myself in a good position to hit.”
After batting .326/.416/.504 at the minor league level in his first 3 years in the Red Sox organization, Nava opened this season by batting .159 with 0 HR in April. His batting average didn’t climb above The Mendoza Line for good until May 27th. While Nava’s overall stats are still not what he’s accustomed to, Daniel has lifted his average to .264 (.367 OBP) with 24 doubles, 1 triple, and 10 home runs.
“The challenging part was trying so hard to put things together and getting the exact opposite result,” Nava said. “I felt some expectations and I just pressed. Struggles definitely have a benefit to them and I’m glad that this season has happened. I’ve learned a lot about just getting back to who I am.”
One of Nava’s recent home runs came at Fenway Park in the “Futures at Fenway” event on August 20th. Daniel launched a shot to deep right-center in his first at-bat – much like the grand slam he hit in his big league debut last season.
“It was kind of funny,” Nava said. “When I got back to the dugout, guys had some things to say about that.
“(Hearing about the grand slam) brings back good memories and reminds me of the road that I’ve taken to get to this point. At the same time, if you ask anybody, if you get a shot up there and you make a good impression or even a bad impression, you want to get up there again and contribute in some way. So I’m happy and grateful that it happened, but I’d love to get back up there and not have that be the only thing. But at the same time, if that is the only thing, it’s not something that I’m going to complain about.”
While Nava has not received a big league call-up so far this season, it has been a great year in other respects. Daniel got engaged during the all-star break, and is looking forward to doing some wedding planning when the season is finished.
“I’m driving back home to California and I’m going to enjoy my drive and then I’m going to spend as much time as I can with my fiancé and work on the wedding,” Nava said. “I’m going to spend about a month relaxing and then I’m going to get back into it and start getting ready again.”
Something tells me that they’ll have a fat-free wedding cake.
* * * * *
Thank heavens that the PawSox stay at a nice hotel in Scranton.
Due to Hurricane Irene, the PawSox and Scranton/WB Yankees were unable to play on Saturday and Sunday meaning that the team is basically marooned at its hotel before returning to action in a doubleheader on Monday at 5:35.
Lehigh Valley won at Louisville on Saturday night, meaning that the PawSox have a 1-game lead in the IL North with 8 games to go.
Ryan Lavarnway is expected to be back in the lineup on Monday after being optioned from Boston over the weekend, and the PawSox are also expected to have Kevin Youkilis and J.D. Drew join the team for brief rehab stints on Tuesday and Wednesday in Rochester.
The PawSox return home for their final 4-game homestand of the regular season on Friday.
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