Takeaways: Nava seems to cement spot

March, 21, 2013
3/21/13
11:52
PM ET
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Takeaways from the Jet, where it was a good night to be Daniel Nava, even if his line in the box score (0-for-1, 1 run, 1 RBI) might not have led you to believe as much.

First, there was what happened before the game, when GM Ben Cherington dropped a pretty big clue that there will be a big league job awaiting the 30-year-old with the independent-league pedigree.

"He's done a good job," Cherington said. "He's had good at-bats, he's done well defensively. He seems more and more comfortable at first base, not that that would be a primary part of his role, but he has the ability to go there if needed."

[+] EnlargeDaniel Nava
Kim Klement/USA TODAY SportsDaniel Nava looks like a good bet to break camp with the big club.
Then there was the game itself, in which Nava started at DH against Phillies ace left-hander Cole Hamels -- on the face of it, a curious choice, given that Nava's splits were heavily tilted toward success against right-handers (.797 OPS), failure against lefties (.613 OPS, .185 BA).

But it was by design, John Farrell saying he wanted to see Nava have more at-bats against lefties this spring, and Daniel delivered in the second inning with a sacrifice fly that scored Will Middlebrooks, who had doubled and advanced to third on a single by Jonny Gomes.

"I thought it was outstanding," Farrell said of Nava's plate appearance. "He gets down in the count, works back deep into the count, then finally puts up a sac fly, particularly on his right side, when he's been a better performer from the left side of the plate.

"But we've seen him a number of good at-bats from the right side of the plate."

Nava grounded out in his only other at-bat against Hamels, but with two out in the seventh, he received the second of consecutive two-out walks issued by right-handed reliever Michael Stutes. Jose Iglesias then hit what appeared to be an inning-ending grounder to shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, but Nava beat the flip to second on the attempted force, while another independent-league refugee, pinch runner Matty Johnson, scored the tiebreaking run from second.

Shane Victorino followed with a triple over the head of the right fielder (No. 4, Orr, Pete) and the Sox scored five times in the inning en route to a 6-1 win over the Phillies.

Victorino is still batting just .160, but he has now drilled an extra-base hit in three consecutive games.

* Other good nights? How about the Sox infield. The middle guys, Jose Iglesias and Dustin Pedroia, handled 10 ground balls between them, six for the Cuban shortstop, four for the California second baseman. Iglesias also laid down a beautiful bunt single, while Pedroia was on base four times with a double, single and two walks. The corner guys had their moments, too. Converted catcher Mike Napoli made a diving snag of Jimmy Rollins' hot smash in the second, while third baseman Middlebrooks made a nice barehanded pickup of Orr's bunt and threw him out in the third.

* And finally, there was the pitcher, John Lackey, who gave up a run in the first on a ground-ball single, popup double and infield out, then put up four zeroes in his five-inning, 73-pitch stint. Lackey's fastball was sitting at 92 mph in the first inning, but he wasn't impressed.

"There'll be more," Lackey promised. "You put a third deck on a stadium, and things happen."

Lackey did not walk a batter, and his good control this spring, despite a yearlong layoff, Farrell attributed to Lackey's new body beautiful.

"I think a lot of that stems from the reshaping of his body," Farrell said. "It's freed his body up. He's got better body control, more consistent in the outings he's pitched, and he repeats his delivery very well, when you consider that he's thrown pitches to both sides of the plate further emphasizes his body control and delivery being repeated."

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?