Nava an option to play first base for Rays

Switch-hitter has mostly played in the outfield during his career

Nava an option to play first base for Rays

HOUSTON -- Daniel Nava started at first base for the Rays on Monday night during a 9-2 win against the Astros and demonstrated enough skill to earn consideration for future use at the position, which affords the Rays more roster flexibility.

"I thought he looked very comfortable over there," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "It's one thing to ask a guy if he's comfortable, and he said he was. But it's another to go play [seven] innings [he played the final two innings in right field]. He looked fine handling throws.

"Nava makes the game look easy. He's kind of effortless in a lot of things he does. His at-bats. His swing. You know, there's not a lot of tense moments for him and I'm sure that helps. And having not played first base in a while, to go over there he looked very comfortable."

Normally if Cash wants to load up on right-handed hitters against a left-handed starter -- like they faced Monday in Scott Kazmir -- he has moved Logan Forsythe to first and inserted a right-handed hitter such as Tim Beckham at second.

Cash started Beckham at second on Monday, but he used Forsythe as the designated hitter. Because Nava can play first, Cash now has the option of playing Forsythe at second base when he wants to load up with righties.

"To know that if [James] Loney needs a day, knowing that Nava can go over there, that's definitely beneficial," Cash said.

Nava has primarily been an outfielder, but he played first in 2003 at the College of San Mateo and he played the position some with the Red Sox, though most of that came during Spring Training.

Nava also was in the lineup because he's gone back to switch-hitting. Earlier this season with the Red Sox, Nava tried hitting just left-handed, but he decided to go back to switch-hitting after spraining his thumb during an at-bat against a left-hander while hitting left-handed. That led to a stint on the disabled list, prompting the return to switch-hitting. The Rays picked up Nava via a waiver claim earlier this month.

Batting solely left-handed "was something we wanted to try -- or I should say, when I was with the Sox, we wanted to try," Nava said. "So we tried it. ... Just didn't work out very well."

Hitting from the right side Monday night, Nava went 3-for-5 and scored a run.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.