Narvaez a pleasant surprise at, behind the plate

Narvaez a pleasant surprise at, behind the plate

MIAMI -- Omar Narvaez came to the White Sox more out of necessity than as a highly touted prospect getting his first Major League opportunity.

But over the seven games played and 18 at-bats since, Narvaez has made the most out of his opportunity.

"He has really impressed us, not just with his game-calling ability and his ability to handle the staff, but also giving us real good at-bats," said White Sox general manager Rick Hahn during a recent interview. "He's always had a solid eye at the plate and swung at strikes. He's been able to not let the speed of this game get to him too much from an offensive or defensive standpoint.

"You never like to have injuries. But if there's ever any silver lining to any of this, it's that it gives some young guys the opportunity to prove themselves at the big league level."

Narvaez replaced Alex Avila on the roster when the veteran backstop was sidelined by a right hamstring strain. Avila could go on a rehab assignment at some point next week, although he already has dealt with a couple of setbacks in the recovery process.

As Hahn pointed out, Narvaez has been quite impressive offensively. He walked three times, singled once and scored a run during Friday's 4-2 victory over the Marlins, and has hit in seven straight games to start his White Sox career. That run leaves him tied with three others for the second-longest, career-opening franchise streak since 1913 (STATS), with Mel Simmons owning the longest stretch with 10 in 1931.

Narvaez, who is hitting .444, has benefited from a tighter strike zone called at the Major League level, in his estimation. But he still doesn't look at offense as a top priority.

"I always try to concentrate catching-wise. I don't worry about too much hitting," Narvaez said. "My goal is to keep my defense strong, and that's every catcher trying to be strong defensively. If you hit, it's just a plus.

"Having been around with Avila and Dioner [Navarro], it helps a lot, watching how they call the game. You learn a lot."

White Sox pitchers approve of what Narvaez has learned or simply his innate ability to handle the staff, which stands as the most important trait moving forward.

"He's very good back there, confident and smart, and you can tell he has a really good idea of what he wants to do with certain pitchers on the mound," said White Sox closer David Robertson. "I haven't heard anything bad about him.

"I've thrown to him twice, and both times I haven't felt the need to shake. I feel like he's on the same page as me and he gives me a little bit of confidence you don't usually see from a young guy. He's giving me fist-pumps and telling me, 'Come on, right here, make this pitch.' It's nice to have that. It's different from a player who is so young. He's got good stuff. He knows how to play."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.