Navarro: 'Another dream come true' with Angels

Converted outfielder made first Opening Day roster eight years after being drafted

Navarro: 'Another dream come true' with Angels

SEATTLE -- Efren Navarro holds an array of records for the Angels' Triple-A affiliate, the Salt Lake Bees, including career games at first base, at-bats, hits, total bases, doubles and multi-RBI games. Every time he set a new milestone, Bees broadcaster Steve Klauke approached him with the same message: "Congratulations, and I'm sorry."

Navarro has long proven he deserves a shot in the Major Leagues, but he's a first baseman without much power in an organization that employs Albert Pujols and C.J. Cron.

So Navarro learned to play the corner outfield positions, made a good impression down the stretch last season, hit well in Spring Training and on Monday -- eight seasons removed from being drafted in the 50th round -- Navarro made his first Opening Day roster.

"It's just crazy how baseball works," Navarro said. "This is just another dream of mine; another dream come true. I'm pretty much living the dream. This is something big for me and my family, especially under the circumstances."

Navarro's best friend, mentor and father passed away on Feb. 20, giving Navarro a whole new perspective entering Spring Training. He'd fight hard, but he wouldn't put added pressure on himself and he'd take things as they came.

Now, the 28-year-old left-handed hitter has a spot on the bench.

"It's crazy to say that, but it really did help," Navarro said of his father's passing. "This is something that my dad and I worked towards, to be in this situation. I'm more rejoicing in the way he lived his life, and the way he carried himself as a man. I want to carry that, not just this year, but for the rest of my life. I find a lot of strength in that."

Garrett Richards was with the team on Monday to take part in Opening Day ceremonies, saying, "This is the biggest day in baseball." The 26-year-old right-hander will pitch in a camp game in Arizona on Thursday and start a rehab assignment April 14, though Richards may only make one start before getting activated off the disabled list.

• Angels manager Mike Scioscia is leaning towards having Drew Rucinski start on April 14, the first day the team needs a fifth starter. Jose Alvarez is not stretched out enough, and Andrew Heaney and Nick Tropeano are not on schedule for that day.

• The seventh-inning role in the Angels' bullpen "is going to be a matchup," Scioscia said. Mike Morin will probably see the most action if Scioscia goes to his bullpen with a lead in the seventh, but Fernando Salas was the go-to guy against lefties last year and could be used as a seventh-inning guy, too.

• Asked if Cron could occasionally sit against a tough right-hander, Scioscia said: "I think C.J. will get a lion's share of at-bats at first base and DH. We gotta get bench guys in games, too, to make sure they're sharp, keep starters fresh, but the plan is to get C.J. in there a lot."

• It'll be interesting to see how the Angels use Taylor Featherston, who's solid defensively, but hasn't played above Double-A, which could make Scioscia hesitant about using him in the ninth inning of a one-run game. Scioscia could opt to pinch-hit Johnny Giavotella against a tough right-handed reliever late in games this year, which would prompt Featherston to play second base in the final innings.

"I think what he lacks in experience, his athleticism and talent will make up for," Scioscia said of Featherston. "We're not going to be afraid to use him."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.