BOSTON — Daniel Nava had never played in a single major league postseason game and was just coming off a career-season, an All-Star-like campaign, at 30 years old.
The left fielder had finished 2013 second on the Sox and fifth in the American League with a .385 on-base percentage. His .831 OPS ranked third among primary AL outfielders.
Despite this, however, he didn’t start the Red Sox’ first two postseason games.
Boston faced two left-handed pitchers (Matt Moore and David Price) in its first two contests of the American League Division Series against Tampa Bay.
Nava, a switch-hitter who is more productive from the left side of the plate, was passed over for left fielder Jonny Gomes, a right-handed batter who mashes left-handed pitching but doesn’t hit as well against righties.
Nava had to have been ticked off, right? Here he was finally getting his shot in the playoffs, and he had to sit on the bench the first two games.
“If you want to go with someone else, that’s fine,” Nava said. “I’m going to be ready to go when you need me and Jonny’s going to be ready to go when you need us. (It’s) the corniest thing we’ve said all year but we just want to win. At some point, personal accolades may mean stuff during the regular season, but then when you get to the postseason, getting that ring is what you’re playing for.
“I know people might think, ‘Ah, yeah, you’re just saying that,’” Nava said. “But the construction of this clubhouse (is about winning). I know I’ve only been in the league for a little bit, but I’ve still paid my dues to get here where I understand the importance of winning. It’s great to have success by yourself. But if you stink as a team, it’s terrible.”