Red Sox's Navarro Finds Patience Is A Virtue

BOSTON—Offensively, the major league debut of Yamaico Navarro was inglorious. He struck out 17 times in 46 plate appearances in his late-season cup of coffee with the Red Sox, appearing overmatched at the plate.

Yet that small sample may have masked some otherwise meaningful progress in the 23-year-old infielder's development. Following the season, Navarro played for Licey in the Dominican League, hitting .261/.400/.478 with four homers.

Perhaps most notably, albeit also in a small sample, he walked as many times (14) as he struck out, taking a free pass in 16.7 percent of plate appearances. Though Navarro has a reputation for being an extreme free-swinger, something his time in the majors did little to dispel, the Sox feel that the Dominican represented the continuation of an improved approach at the plate.

"It gets completely overlooked," farm director Mike Hazen said of Navarro's improvement. "Look at the last two years, plate discipline-wise, with that guy. Pretty good."

In 2009, during a season disrupted by surgery to remove a broken hamate, Navarro walked in 7.9 percent of plate appearances while playing at three levels (short-season Lowell, high Class A Salem, Double-A Portland). In 2010, Navarro walked in 10.8 percent of his minor league plate appearances for Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket, hitting .275/.356/.437 with 11 homers.

In the majors, he primarily played shortstop, though he also became acclimated to third base in the minors in 2010 and also played a few games at second. Navarro, whom the Red Sox signed out of the Dominican in 2005, shows range and agility that belies his 5-foot-11, 170-pound size—traits that, in combination with his significant raw power, reminded one talent evaluator of Juan Uribe.

"I think Navarro has a chance to be that type of guy," the evaluator said. "He's going to continue to get bigger and stronger, but he does have good instincts, he has a feel for the ball, and he has a chance to produce offensively at a level where a team might be able to get away with less than plus defense . . . and still have a chance to win."

Sox Yarns

• The Sox lost a pair of relievers to division rivals in the Rule 5 draft, with the Rays taking lefthander Cesar Cabral (a 21-year-old who touches 93 mph, but who has never pitched above high Class A) and the Yankees selecting righthander Daniel Turpen (a 24-year-old who spent the year in Double-A for the Giants and Red Sox organizations). The Sox are hopeful that they will get both back.

• The Sox expect that lefthander Felix Doubront, who made 12 big league appearances in 2010, will be asked to contribute out of the bullpen in 2011.