FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox on Sunday optioned outfielder Daniel Nava and catcher Mark Wagner to Triple-A Pawtucket and reassigned right-hander Matt Fox to the minor league camp.
Nava, who forever etched his name into team lore with his first-pitch grand slam in his major league debut last season, struggled a bit at the plate this spring. He heads to the minor league camp batting .205 (8-for-39) with 14 strikeouts.
However, the fact that the move drew some attention in the first place means something to Nava's progression.
"Last year at this time I'm willing to bet nobody asked me a Daniel Nava question," manager Terry Francona said Sunday morning. "He's come a long way, he just needs to go play and then whatever happens, happens. Guys play themselves into the mix. Just the fact that we're talking about Daniel Nava means he's come so far."
One area in which Nava has impressed is in the field. Playing strictly in left field, he showcased a solid solid defensive game that turned some heads, making a series of strong throws and a highlight-reel catch Friday night in Port Charlotte.
As for Wagner, he figures to get the bulk of the starts behind the plate at Pawtucket, meaning he could be the first name called if and when Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Jason Varitek is injured.
The 26-year-old Wagner has made leaps and bounds behind the plate, which is really all that matters if he ever gets that call to Boston.
"I think we'd have faith," Francona said. "We kind of told him the same thing we told everyone else. Go down and do your job and when there's a need, make yourself be the guy. I think he's pretty advanced defensively and he has a good aptitude for running the game.
"That's what you have to have. That's why [Kevin Cash] was such a good [player to have]. We certainly didn't bring him in for his bat. If a guy comes up and hits…you better catch, because at least we have a chance to win."
Wagner hit .205 in 36 games with the PawSox last year, a season which was largely destroyed by a broken hand. He is 3-for-18 (.167) this spring, but one of the hits was a home run and two were triples.