Saturday, March 8, 2014
BOSTON - He batted .303 for the whole season. His on-base percentage of .383 was second only to David Ortiz on the team.
Yet Daniel Nava was benched for a second straight game. And he understands completely.
"No point in changing things now," Nava said.
While Nava is a switch hitter, he is much better against right-handed pitching (.322) than left-handed (.252).
When a left-hander is on the mound, Jonny Gomes gets the start in left field. Tampa Bay began this American League division series with lefties Matt Moore and David Price.
"I know my role. And Jonny knows his role. They made that clear from the get-go so that helps in situations like this," Nava said.
"When I saw we were facing two lefties, I told myself I have two more days to let my body feel a little better. For the third game, I hope to be good to go."
Nava is expected to start Game 3 on Monday in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Rays are throwing right-hander Alex Cobb.
Meanwhile, Nava has enjoyed watching Gomes. Game 1 provided plenty to cheer about.
"That was a lot of fun," Nava said. " The one play that pumped us up a lot was when Steven (Drew) beat out that grounder, and Jonny was busting it from second to home.
"It's good to see that. It reminds myself to keep playing like that. I don't know if I would have thought to round the base that hard."
Nava is watching and learning, and will be ready Monday.
DAVID PRICE MAY be nearing the end of his time with the Rays, a team that has a history of trading players when they become too expensive.
While Tampa Bay is not likely to become trading partners with Boston, Price does become a free agent in 2016. Price, 28, said he is comfortable with the Rays but likes the look of the Red Sox organization, too.
"What they have going on over there is extremely special," Price said. "The Red Sox are probably one of my favorite teams to watch, to be honest, just because of the fire they have.
"You can tell those players care about each other. I think that's what both of our teams have."
REMEMBER ALFREDO ACEVES, the effective right-hander with an unpredictable personality? He officially became a free agent last week. Aceves, who was 4-1 with a 4.86 ERA in 11 games (six starts) with Boston, never seemed in step with management or his teammates. He was sent to the minors for good July 15 and taken off the 40-man roster. He eventually ended his season pitching in rookie Gulf Coast League games in Florida. Aceves, 31, can now sign with any team, likely to a minor league contract.
NOTES: Jim Lonborg, the pitching star of the 1967 Impossible Dream season, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Monday's Game 3 is scheduled to start at 6:07 p.m. in St. Petersburg. The Rays are 5-8 in home playoff games.
Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or: