It didn’t take Daniel Nava long to make an impact upon his return to Pawtucket from Boston. After the Red Sox optioned Nava to the PawSox, he took a quick snooze, hit a three run homer and scored the game winning run in the tenth on Thursday night at McCoy. Of course, by now, we’re not surprised by anything Nava does. After spending more than a month with the Red Sox (.286, 1, 16) Nava relishes the experience. “I learned a lot while I was up there. It was a great experience. I am grateful to have that experience. On the field, off the field, guys really want to win up there. That was apparent the first day I got there. You put your own numbers on the back burner. Let’s just win. It was really cool to be a part of it.”
Nava spoke of his evolution. He’s gone from the quirky minor leaguer who leaves tickets for Erin Anfrews of ESPN, to a valued member of Red Sox Nation. “It feels good. I’m back down, I’ve got stuff I’ve got to work on. By no means am I content. I know baseball and there’s always something to be worked on. It does feel good to know that I was able to contribute and help the team win.”
Whether he’s telling the truth or not, Nava says that there is consolation in knowing the reason for his demotion wasn’t poor performance, it’s just a numbers game with Jeremy Hermida coming off the disabled list. “Of course, it’s an encouragement for sure. Like I said I am back here to work on things and I’ll make the most of this opportunity.”
By now, everyone knows the story of the “little engine that could”. Nava, who just a few years ago had to wash the laundry of the baseball team at Santa Clara will forever more be known as a Major Leaguer. His historic grand slam off Joe Blanton on the very first big league pitch he ever saw, is still fresh in his mind. “Off the bat, I didn’t think it was gone. I thought it might be a good ball into the gap. I really wasn’t watching the flight of the ball, I was watching Jayson Werth in right field. He took two or three steps and stopped and that’s when I realized that it was gone. I just wanted to make sure I touched all the bases and didn’t trip.” One pitch, one swing and one step into Red Sox lore. “It was surreal.” said Nava. “I didn’t want to go out for a curtain call. I have a lot of respect for the guys that have been there. The only way that happened was because someone pushed me up the steps. It was really cool that it happened. I guess I didn’t grasp it at the time. It did eventually dawn on me that it was pretty cool.”
Daniel said that despite his heroics in front of a packed Fenway and a national TV audience, he was able to get around pretty easily in Boston. “The next day, I was able to walk to the ballpark and no one knew who I was. It was a good moment, but I didn’t need bodyguards. There was no paparazzi following me around.”
Something else that pleased Nava was the fact that he played and produced the entire time he was there. It wasn’t just some fluke grand slam. “That felt very good being in the situation I was in. Going day to day, I was fortunate to be able to stay up there as long as I did. It felt good to contribute to winning. I really mean that.” Since he was unsure of how long he’d stay with the club, Nava never allowed himself to take a breath, pinch himself and make sure this all was really happening. “I never let it sink in, just because I was going day to day. I was afraid if I did, I might relax a bit and lose my edge. Maybe in the offseason, but not yet. I still have a job to do today.”
He did the job yesterday and after a good night sleep, I can’t wait to see what he does today.