Tag Archives: NAVA

AN AMERICAN BASEBALL DREAM

Imagine this version of the American Dream. A young man graduates from High School in the west and goes on to a University where he tries out for the baseball team. After high school,at 5’8′, 135 pounds, he doesn’t make the team so he takes the position as Team Manager because baseball is his dream and he wants to be around it.

During the next two years, while going to school and performing his duties as Manager, he works out as much as he can and plays as much baseball as he can trying to hone those skills so that he can someday play at a higher level.

After his second year at college, he transfers to a nearby Junior College, where he not only makes the team but is named a Junior College All American. The college he originally started gives him a baseball scholarship to return for his senior year. That year, he hits .395 and is named to the first team All West Coast Conference Team.

Even after two very impressive years in college ball, he is not drafted by any major league team so he joins an Independent League team playing in the west. Finally, in 2008, a major league team notices him and purchases rights to him from the Independent League Team for one dollar.

He is sent to the minor leagues where he hits well and progresses quickly through the organization’s farm system for the next two years.

Fast forward to June 12, 2010. Our young man makes his debut in Major League baseball. In his first at bat he hits the first pitch he has ever seen in the big leagues for a grand slam home run.

Over the next two years, he spends some time in the big leagues but also shuttles back and forth as needed between the team’s AAA farm team and the big leagues. In 2012, in just 88 games in the big leagues, he hits .243, with six homers and 33 RBI’s, shuttling back and forth from AAA to the parent team.

At the start of the 2013 season, he makes the big league team, ends up playing in 134 games, hitting .303 with 12 homers and 66 RBI’s. He plays the outfield and even fills in at first base as needed. His team surprises everyone and wins its division title, goes on the win the league championship and, eventually the World Series.

Our hero, who couldn’t make his college team 13 years ago, is now the proud owner of a World Series ring, the most coveted prize in the baseball world. That was the story of Daniel Nava, a young man who made his dream come true with the Boston Red Sox through hard work and perseverance.

The story doesn’t end there, though. The next year, the team fell apart and finished in last place but he still hit .270 in 113 games. The following year, he is caught up in and maybe even a victim of bad management that find his team with eight major league outfielders and not enough pitching as the season starts. He ends up being sent back to the minors while the other, more expensive mistakes that his team has made battle for spots in the lineup while the team sinks lower and lower into the basement of the division.

Eventually, after hitting .250 in 10 games in the minors and only .152 in 66 games in the Major Leagues, he was designated for assignment this past week. The Sox must either takes him back, release him, place him on waivers or trade him in the next ten days.

Daniel Nava’s days with the Red Sox are apparently over. My bet is that he will land on his feet with another team in the near future. There have to be teams out there who can make use of his versatility, hitting ability and more than anything else, his desire and willingness to work for what he wants. Whatever happens his story is one of the most inspiring in sports in recent years.

DANIEL NAVA’S SUCCESS STORY

The Red Sox yesterday reached agreement with Daniel Nava, signing him to a one year contract for $1.85 million. Nava was eligible for arbitration but accepted the Sox one year offer.

This leaves the Sox with eight potential outfielders and some of these are obviously not going to be around when the season starts. Nava may end up traded before the season starts but he also may be around when the outfield jam is worked out as he also has the ability to fill in at first base when needed. Of course, Alan Craig can also do that but he will have to prove he can still hit in order to stay around Boston himself

Nava’s rise to the big leagues has been called a Cinderella Story, but,to me, it’s more a lesson in the value of hard work and determination. After graduating from St. Francis High School in Mountain View, California, he tried out for the baseball team at Santa Clara University as a walk on and, at 5’8”, 135 pounds, failed to make the team. He spent the next two years as equipment manager for the team and worked at his baseball skills whenever he could.

After his Sophomore year at Santa Clara, he transferred to the College of San Mateo, a California Junior College, and made the baseball team. In his one year at San Mateo, he was named a Junior College All American and was given a baseball scholarship to return to Santa Clara for his Senior Year. At Santa Clara that year, he hit .395 and was named to the first team All West Coast Conference team.

After graduating Santa Clara, he was undrafted by Major League Baseball and played independent league ball for the Chico Outlaws of the Independent Golden Baseball League. In January of 2008, the Red Sox purchased rights to him from the Chicos for a reported one dollar and sent him to Lancaster in Class A where he hit .341. In 2009 and 2010, he progressed rapidly through the Sox Minor League system from Salem, where he hit .339 before being promoted to AA Portland where he hit .364 and was sent to AAA Pawtucket and split 2010 between there and the Red Sox.

He made his debut with the Sox against the Phillies on June 12, 2010. In his first at bat for the Sox, against Joe Blanton, he hit the first pitch for a grand slam home run, becoming only the second player in baseball history to do so on the first major league pitch he saw. He played 60 games with the Sox that year, hitting .242, but never hit another homer all season.

In 2011, he spent the whole year at Pawtucket, playing 121 games and hitting just .268 with 10 homers and 48 RBI’s. He was placed on waivers by the Sox but no one claimed him and he was returned to Pawtucket.

In 2012, after not being invited to Spring Training, he spent most of the year with the Sox after he was called up to fill in when both Crawford and Ellsbury were out and played in 88 games, hitting only .243 with 6 homers and 33 RBI’s.

At the start of the 2013 season, with the additions to the team of outfielders Victorino, Johnny Gomes and Mike Carp and the sensational performance of Jackie Bradley, Jr., in spring training, and Ellsbury coming back, it looked like Nava was headed back to Pawtucket as odd man out in the outfield.

Bradley, Jr., did not play up to the Sox expectations and ended up back at Pawtucket. Both Ellsbury and Victorino were unavailable for short periods and Nava filled in wherever needed. He consistently hit at around .300, and ended the season with a .303 average with 12 homers and 66 RBI’s in 134 games. He played in both left and right field and filled in at first base for 19 games and was an important part of the drive to the World Series title.

Last year, after hitting just .161 in April and spending 24 games at Pawtucket, he came back and ended the season with a very respectable .270 batting average in 113 games again playing both corner outfield positions and filling in at first 11 games.

Obviously, there are players who find their niche when given a chance to play regularly in the big leagues after less than impressive starts and Nava appears to be one of them. Mark O’Brien, who was Nava’s coach at Santa Clara and who has coached 32 players who made it to the Major Leagues said that Nava is ‘…the best baseball player I’ve ever coached in my life.’

At an initial cost of just $1. and a current salary of $1.85. million, this switch hitting, hard working 31, soon to be 32 year old, who is now 5’11’ and 200 pounds, has been a real bargain and asset to this team. He may not be an all star but certainly has earned the money that the Sox have paid him and has the tools to be a real plus for this year’s version of the Red Sox.

Whether he makes the team in spring training or not, Daniel Nava has proven he has the ability to play regularly in the major leagues and, if he is available for trade, I am sure that there are teams that will be happy to have him on their roster and would be willing to give up some talent to get him.