After the 2010 season, Boston Red Sox bench player Daniel Nava came very close to losing his major league baseball dream for good. Nava was a non-prospect who was never wanted and never drafted who somehow still made it to the big leagues.
After a storybook start, one which saw Nava hit a grand slam home run in his first major league at-bat, Nava was relegated to an afterthought for the Red Sox, finishing out the season with mediocre numbers.
In 2011, Nava never saw the majors for the Red Sox and it looked like his time with the organization was done.
But, much to Nava’s credit, he resurfaced for Boston last season, one of the few players to take advantage of all the struggles the Red Sox had at the big league level last season.
This spring, the 30-year-old Nava finally seems to have identified his niche in order to remain in the majors. His improvement defensively in the outfield has been noticeable, but his ability to learn first base and play well in his chances there signify someone who understands his versatility is very important to continuing his career.
Hitting has always been Nava’s forte, and his ability to hit from both sides of the plate makes him an ideal player to have available to spell your starters or matchup against an opponent’s bullpen late in games. He gives manager John Farrell professional at-bats, someone who will get on base and swing at strikes.
Nava has already protected the Red Sox against the struggles of top prospect Jackie Bradley Jr. and the absence of slugger David Ortiz.
Given Jonny Gomes‘s continued struggles against right-handed pitchers and his defensive issues in left, Nava might suddenly find himself getting more playing time than anyone imagined to start the year.
Looking at the way Nava has been performing this year, that might not be such a bad thing.