Nava making strong second impression

Nava making strong second impression

Nava making strong second impression
BOSTON -- When Daniel Nava resurfaced last week from Triple-A, it was unclear how often he would surface in manager Bobby Valentine's lineup. As it turns out, Monday marked the fifth time Nava started in the five games he's been back.

As the old saying goes, sometimes the player actually writes out the lineup instead of the manager.

Nava certainly put himself in position to get a sixth straight start based on what he did Monday during the Red Sox's 6-1 win over the Mariners.

Not only did Nava reach base three more times, but he even produced his second career home run, and first since the grand slam he hit on the very first pitch in his career on June 14, 2010.

Nava went nearly two years -- and 171 Major League at-bats -- between homers.

"Yeah, it was kind of a long time," Nava deadpanned after the game.

In his first five Major League games since 2010, Nava is 7-for-12 with six runs scored, four doubles, one homer, six RIBs and six walks.

"It's been phenomenal," said Valentine. "Every hitter, when they're in that zone, says they're seeing the ball well. This was my first time really looking at him closely from the right side. He's fouling off the tough pitches. He's taking the balls very early very confidently. He's putting a good swing on strikes. That's a hitter's wonderland. He's in it, and I hope he can stay in it for a long time."

Nava is relishing his latest chance to stick in the Majors.

"Honestly, I didn't know what to expect," Nava said. "I wasn't sure the role. I don't know, maybe it's just going day to day right now. That's the role. That's fine, it keeps things simple. You don't have to worry about anything. I was focused on one thing at a time, but I didn't know what to expect. I think that most guys coming up are pretty much not sure what to expect."

While his offense has been impressive, Nava's defense in left field has been noticeably better than during his rookie season.

"I had to make some adjustments. I had to learn to be more attentive on the defensive side," Nava said. "I probably wasn't as focused and didn't take it as seriously as I should -- at least in the Minors to when I came up here [the first time].

"I admit to that. Since that point, I've tried to be more attentive of swings and pitches and where I should be playing and checking my center fielder and aware of where he's going, because I had to learn that a little inch or foot can make a difference between a guy getting a hit or not getting a hit or scoring. I tried to put myself in the best possible situation to be in the right spot."

What else has changed for Nava from 2010?

"I think just getting to do it that second time around helps me understand how to go about my business and what to expect," Nava said. "Any time you do something a second time around, there's a comfort factor. That's helpful."

After getting an invite to Major League Spring Training in 2011, Nava was relegated to Minors camp this year. Some might have viewed that as a slap in the face that took him totally off the radar screen. Nava thinks it might have played an indirect role in him earning a ticket back to Boston.

"I didn't feel like it was a, 'Hey, we forgot about you.' I felt like what it just allowed me to do was focus on what I can control," Nava said. "Just be ready. I looked at it like, 'If I make the team, great. If I don't, at least I'll know that I gave it everything I had.' I think it took a lot of pressure off. I felt like I had nothing else to lose. Sometimes that's a good spot to be in."