One pitch later, Fenway Park was in absolute bedlam.
That’s because on the first pitch Nava saw from Phillies right-hander Joe Blanton — the first pitch Nava had ever seen in the major leagues — he took a fastball deep into the Red Sox bullpen for a grand slam.
Nava made baseball history, becoming just the fourth player to hit a grand slam in his first major league at-bat, and only the second to do it on the first pitch.
A Red Sox minor leaguer since 2008, Nava got his chance to start Saturday’s game in left field due to a slew of injuries to Red Sox outfielders. Opening Day starters Jacoby Ellsbury (ribs) and Mike Cameron (abdominal tear) have both been sidelined for much of the season.
Nava certainly made the most of his major league debut, and earned a spot in the hearts of Red Sox fans.
So who will be the next Daniel Nava? Thanks to some recent injuries, there are a couple of possible candidates.
Left-hander Felix Doubront is expected to make his major league debut on the mound Friday against the Dodgers. Doubront, who is taking the spot of recently injured Daisuke Matsuzaka, is 2-1 with a 1.08 ERA in four starts for Triple-A Pawtucket this year and is 6-1 with a 2.11 ERA overall between Pawtucket and Double-A Portland.
The southpaw not only will have the pressure of making his first big league start. He also will be facing former Red Sox player Manny Ramirez, who isn’t exactly beloved among the Fenway faithful. If Doubront strikes out Ramirez, and picks up a victory, don’t be surprised if Doubront’s name becomes part of the Boston sports dialogue.
Another pitcher who could make his debut in a Red Sox uniform this season is Robert Coello. At 6-foot-5-inch right-hander, Coello can hit 94 miles per hour with his fastball and is blowing his way through the minor leagues, with 55 strikeouts in just 46 1/3 innings this season between Portland and Pawtucket.
Then there’s Angel Sanchez. The only minor league shortstop on the Red Sox 40-man roster, Sanchez could see some time with the big league club if Marco Scutaro, who is day-to-day with neck pain, goes on the disabled list. Sanchez is hitting .280 with four steals for Pawtucket in 2010.
So while Red Sox fans can’t be happy that their team has been bitten by the injury bug this year, they might be pleasantly surprised by the next minor leaguer to make headlines.
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