ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Daniel Nava deserves votes for the All-Star Game given how well he has played for the Red Sox this season.
If only it was that easy.
Nava isn’t on the ballot, so voting for him would require writing his name in. When the ballots were prepared before the season, the Red Sox submitted Jacoby Ellsbury, Jonny Gomes and Shane Victorino as their candidates.
Nava wasn’t even guaranteed of being on the roster at the time. He had to make the Sox in spring training and then prove himself worthy of playing time in the outfield.
Nava is indispensible now and showed why again on Wednesday night. His two-run home run was the difference as the Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 2-1.
That’s nine homers and 44 RBIs for Nava along with a .299 batting average and an .870 OPS.
Nava is first among American League outfielders in on-base percentage, second in RBIs, second in batting average and fourth in OPS. Then there’s the versatility. Nava has started 30 games in right field, 20 in left, and one at first base.
“He’d get my vote,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said.
That Nava is even in the conversation is an accomplishment. The former independent league player was a part-time player for the Sox until this season and didn’t even merit an invitation to major league spring training in 2012.
Now he could be worthy of being introduced at Citi Field in New York on July 16.
“It’s not even something I’m thinking about,” Nava said, “If I get in, that would be great. But if I don’t go, it’s the last chance I get to see my wife before we have our baby.”
Rachel Nava is expecting the couple’s first child, a girl, in August in California. The Sox end the first half of the season in Oakland on July 14.
“We’ll be right there,” Nava said. “Either way, it’s a win-win. She could come to New York with me. But I’d be fine with staying at home with her.”
Before this season, Nava was best known for hitting a grand slam on the first pitch he saw in the majors. That came on June 12, 2010. Three years later, his two-run homer required a lot more patience.
With Ellsbury on third base and two outs in the third inning, Rays starter Chris Archer fell behind Nava 3-and-0. Nava took the next pitch for a called strike then fouled off five consecutive pitches before jumping on a slider over the plate and driving it over the fence in right field.
“I was looking for something middle and trying to stay up the middle. It was just reactions right there,” Nava said.
The two runs provided by Nava were enough for Alfredo Aceves (3-1) and four relievers. They held the Rays to six hits and struck out 10 as the Sox took two of three.
The Sox are 7-2 against the Rays this season.
• Aceves was called into Farrell’s office after the game and told he would be returning to the minors. But the Sox plan to call him up back up on Tuesday to face the Rays again in one of the games of a day/night doubleheader at Fenway Park. Under a new rule, teams can add a 26th player to their roster for doubleheaders.
• David Ortiz said he will not participate in the Home Run Derby, even if asked by AL team captain Robinson Cano. “I’m too old,” Ortiz said with a chuckle. “I’m just happy when I hit one in a game.”
Ortiz and Cano are close friends, but Ortiz said he was happy to leave the event to others. Ortiz won the Home Run Derby in 2010. He has been in the event six times.
• Ellsbury has hit safely in 11 straight games at 22 of 50. He also has stolen at least one base in the last five games and has 16 swipes in the last 13 games. Ellsbury has 29 steals, more than 11 teams have.