Dioner Navarro sent for MRI

Updated: March 24, 2011, 8:28 PM ET
By Tony Jackson | ESPNLosAngeles.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Dioner Navarro was scratched from the starting lineup for Thursday's Cactus League game against the Colorado Rockies and sent for an MRI exam after feeling pain in his right side taking a swing during a morning session of batting practice.

"That is the first time in my career [to feel something in my side]," Navarro said. "I can't tell you how bad it is. It doesn't seem to be that bad, but we'll see how it responds tomorrow. As soon as I felt it, I shut it down. I didn't want to aggravate anything in there."

Results of the MRI aren't expected until Friday. But with the season opener now just a week away, Navarro's injury at least raises the possibility that he could become the fourth Dodgers player expected to begin the season on the disabled list, where he would join pitchers Vicente Padilla and Jon Garland and third baseman Casey Blake.

The former American League All-Star signed a one-year, $1 million contract this winter to be the Dodgers backup catcher.

If Navarro misses Opening Day, he likely would be replaced on the roster by either Hector Gimenez, a minor league free agent the Dodgers signed over the winter and added to the 40-man roster and who is having a solid spring, or A.J. Ellis, a longtime Dodgers prospect who played in 44 games for the major league club last year.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly happened to be watching Navarro take batting practice when the injury happened.

"He took one swing and hit a line drive, and I could see him going kind of like this," Mattingly said, rubbing his right abdomen. "I said, 'What happened, did you [hurt] that side?' He was like, 'Yeah.' I talked to him before he went for the MRI, and he said, 'I listened to you, and I didn't stay in there.' We have been trying to get these guys, if they feel something, even a little thing, to let somebody know.''

Navarro, 27, became the Dodgers' primary catcher midway through the 2005 season and held that job until early in 2006, when an injury opened the door for highly touted catching prospect Russell Martin. The Dodgers traded Navarro to Tampa Bay in a five-player deal on June 27, 2006, and he became an All-Star as the Rays' primary catcher in 2008.

But Navarro lost his job in Tampa Bay last year and wound up spending a significant part of the season at Triple-A Durham. After he hit .194 in the majors, the Rays non-tendered him this winter. The Dodgers, who themselves non-tendered Martin, re-signed veteran Rod Barajas to be their primary catcher, then brought Navarro back in December to be Barajas' backup.

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Tony Jackson

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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