BOSTON — Daniel Nava appeared to make the leap from Four-A player to major league mainstay last season. The 31-year-old struggled out of the gate this season, though, and he ended up being a roster casualty when outfielder Shane Victorino returned from an injury.
Nava was demoted by the Red Sox to Triple-A Pawtucket on April 23 after hitting just .149 (10-or-67) with 17 strikeouts and a .240 on-base percentage in 17 games with Boston. A roster move was necessary given Victorino’s impending return, but the Red Sox also wanted Nava to work on getting back to his 2013 approach in order to increase his confidence.
So far, the results have been impressive.
Nava has thrived since joining the PawSox, hitting .333 (7-for-21) with a .400 on-base percentage, one homer and three RBIs in six games. While it’s certainly a small sample size, reports indicate the veteran is beginning to look like the guy who finished second to Mike Trout among primary American League outfielders last season with a .385 on-base percentage.
“He’s back to an approach that we saw here last year,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said before Friday night’s Red Sox-Oakland Athletics game at Fenway Park. “Defensively, he’s played all three outfield positions (at Triple-A), including DH. But the disappointment of going down (to Triple-A) has been short-lived, or it hasn’t filtered into his work in between the lines, and he’s swinging the bat well.”
Nava finished last season with 12 homers and 66 RBIs in 134 games. His .385 on-base percentage ranked fifth among AL qualifiers and his .303 average ranked eighth, earning him the distinction of Most Improved Red Sox Player by the Boston chapter of the BBWAA. Certainly, there’s plenty of talent there, making it quite possible Nava will return to the Red Sox to make an impact before season’s end.
For now, Nava will continue to hone his skills at Triple-A, as Farrell said Friday the only way the outfielder would rejoin the big league club at this stage of the season would be in the event of an injury.