Red Sox want Daniel Nava to regain confidence

The compelling saga of Daniel Nava’s baseball career has taken another turn — down to Pawtucket.

The Red Sox optioned the 31-year-old outfielder and first baseman to Triple A Wednesday to make room for an extra relief pitcher, righthander Alex Wilson.

Nava was 10 of 67 (.149) in 17 games this season with two home runs and three RBIs. Manager John Farrell called his conversation with Nava Tuesday night difficult.


“Felt like we needed to get Daniel Nava going again. His struggles at the plate, I think, are evident,” Farrell said. “Trying to get him back to being the player of confidence we’ve seen in the past.”

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It was rapid decline for the switch-hitting Nava, who was one of the key players of the World Series champions last season. Nava was fifth on the team in plate appearances in 2013, and only David Ortiz and Mike Napoli topped his OPS of .831. Nava was fifth in the American League with a .385 on-base percentage.

There were signs of discontent in the postseason. Nava started only seven of the 16 games and hit .200 as Farrell went with Jonny Gomes, even against righthanded pitchers.

Nava never got started this season, getting six hits in his first 40 at-bats.

“Just feel like there needs to be of a more consistent two-strike approach,” Farrell said. “I felt like there were times he tried to hit with a little bit too much power rather than that hitter of average that will hit occasional home runs.


“He needs to get some work from the right side of plate, as well.”

Nava, as is his right, did not report to Pawtucket Wednesday. He was not made available to the media Tuesday after meeting with Farrell.

“He was disappointed,” Farrell said. “I can’t say there was disbelief but it was a disappointing message to deliver given his role last year and the contributions . . . While not liking it or deep down agreeing with it, he knew it was a necessity.”

Nava was cut from his college team, became an equipment manager, then took an unlikely path to the majors via junior college and an independent league in California.

Nava hit a grand slam in his first at-bat in the majors in 2010 but was designated for assignment in 2011 and outrighted off the 40-man roster.


He improved enough to merit a second chance with the Sox in 2012 and hit .281 with 18 homers and 99 RBIs over two seasons. Now Nava is back with Pawtucket, left to prove himself again.

K’s for Middlebrooks

Third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who is on the disabled list with a strained right calf, was 0 for 3 and struck out three times for Pawtucket in a 3-1 victory against Rochester. He played seven innings in the field.

Middlebrooks is 0 for 6 with five strikeouts in two games. He is scheduled to play for the Paw Sox Thursday.

Brock Holt, who has started at third base the last six games, was 1 for 2 with two walks. He is 8 for 20 with three walks and four RBIs.

One and done

Wilson earned a World Series ring after appearing in 26 games for the Red Sox last season. But he did not get in a major league game after July 8 because of a torn ligament in his right thumb that required surgery.

Wilson was optioned to Pawtucket March 13 during spring training after appearing in only four games. He needed the extra time to build up his arm again.

“It wasn’t quite there. I just kept my head down and kept working hard. That’s always been my mentality,” he said. “I’ve been on the underside of a lot of deals in my life.”

Once the Triple A season started, Wilson was sharp. He appeared in eight games for Pawtucket and threw eight scoreless innings. Wilson allowed four hits with five walks and nine strikeouts.

Wilson didn’t pitch and was optioned back to Pawtucket after the Sox beat the Yankees, 5-1. The Sox are planning to activate right fielder Shane Victorino off the disabled list Thursday.

“I understand it,” Wilson said. “Hope to be back.”

Sizemore is less

Right fielder Grady Sizemore entered Wednesday’s game with one hit over his last 26 at-bats and went 1 for 5, leaving his average at .212.

But Farrell believes that will change.

“When he’s squared up some balls . . . the ball hasn’t quite traveled what we might expect, whether that’s cold air, wind,” the manager said before the game.

“We’re not seeing an abnormal amount of swing and miss. The bat speed is there. There’s not a whole lot of bottom-line results for the approach taken. I don’t see him coming out of an approach or trying to do more than he’s capable.”

Sizemore, who is back in the majors after a two-year absence because of injuries, has been playing primarily right field or left field. He was exclusively a center fielder before this season and the lack of experience has shown in some poor reads and slow jumps on balls.

“He’s not as comfortable as he would be in center field, and we recognize that,” Farrell said. “Through the repetition, we see him more as a corner outfielder at this point than in center field.

“We’re doing what we can to shorten down that curve to be more efficient.”

Designated record

David Ortiz played in his 1,643d game as a designated hitter, matching Harold Baines for the major league record. Ortiz is already the record-holder as a DH for most categories, including hits, home runs, doubles, and RBIs . . . Felix Doubront, who pitches for the Red Sox Thursday, allowed eight runs over eight innings in his first two starts. In the two starts since, Doubront gave up five runs over 13 innings. It’s a matter of thinking less, it seems. “There’s been less thought of mechanics and delivery rather than executing pitches,” Farrell said. “He’s used a full assortment of pitches.”

Meb on the mound

Meb Keflezighi, the men’s winner of the 118th Boston Marathon and the first American to win it since 1983, threw out the first pitch. He wore a Sox jersey with 26.2 on the back . . . With Nava off the roster and Sizemore consigned to corner spots, the Sox are showing faith in rookie center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. Along with his hitting, coaches are working with Bradley on the accuracy of his throws. “That’s a point of emphasis that continues to be stressed,” Farrell said. “He’s got very good arm strength and yet it can be a little erratic at the times. It’s something that he’s aware of.” . . . Mike Napoli’s first-inning single extended his streak of reaching base to 18 games, a career high . . . Despite wind buffeting the microphone, the Harvard Krokodiloes did a fine rendition of the national anthem.

Peter Abraham can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.