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Daniel Nava’s latest masterpieces could be found in right field

04.29.13 at 12:28 am ET
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Robbie Grossman found out just how far Daniel Nava’€™s defense has come.

The Houston outfielder hit two balls to right field that should have gone for extra-base hits during the Red Sox‘€™ 6-1 win at Fenway Park, but Nava altered fate with his glove.

The first grab came in the second inning, when Nava ranged back toward the warning track in right field, in front of the Red Sox’€™ bullpen, and executed a basket catch of Grossman’€™s blast.

Then, in the ninth, Nava closed out the Red Sox’€™ win with an even more spectacular catch.

The right fielder sprinted toward Grossman’€™s blast as it started curling toward the right field wall. Then, just as it was ready to fall in, Nava left his feet, extended his body and plucked the ball out of the air just before touch down.

It was a catch he later called, ‘€œThe funnest I’€™ve ever had.’€

But when asked which grab he would classify as more difficult, it was the one he didn’€™t leave his feet on he identified as tougher to execute.

‘€œProbably over the shoulder because I knew the wall was coming up,’€ he said. ‘€œI think the other one was just instinct, run after the ball and hoping to get there. The other one I knew I was going to be underneath it but the last quarter of the way it just fell in my glove.

‘€œThose two plays ‘€¦ [Rick] Ankiel had that play where he came in and kind of lost it in the sun, and I was talking to [Jacoby Ellsbury] and [Dustin Pedroia] and said, ‘€˜There are some balls if they’€™re in that perfect spot I’€™m going to need your help.’€™ You can look good one day and the next day you look like you’€™ve never played baseball before.’€

Nava’€™s improvement in the field has been fairly remarkable. The 30-year-old credits former Red Sox’€™ minor-league outfield instructor Tom Goodwin, and current Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo, in helping him prioritize his defense in the minor leagues following his return to Pawtucket in 2011.

And while most had noticed his ability to manage Fenway’€™s left field, considering Nava hadn’€™t played right field until last season, there was some skepticism regarding an ability to man what is perceived as one of baseball’€™s toughest positions.

‘€œIt’€™s been different,’€ said Nava of playing right field. ‘€œYou go from one of the shortest distances and areas you have to cover in left to one of the largest you have to cover in right. That distance alone makes it a little more challenging. I’€™m always looking at Arnie and Ells to make sure I’€™m in the right spot, but also I’€™m also not giving away too much space. I like it, but it’€™s taken a while to adjust to the differences of the vastness of the area you have to cover.’€

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