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Dioner Navarro

Tampa Bay Rays — No. 30
Catcher
Born: February 9, 1984 (1984-02-09) (age 26)
Caracas, Venezuela
Bats: Switch Throws: Right 
MLB debut
September 7, 2004 for the New York Yankees
Career statistics
(through 2009 season)
Batting average     .253
Home runs     33
Runs batted in     173
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Dioner Favian Navarro Vivas (born February 9, 1984, in Caracas, Venezuela) is a Major League Baseball catcher and switch-hitter who plays for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Navarro is nicknamed "Little Pudge" due to his physical resemblance to catcher Iván Rodríguez. He is also frequently called "Navi" by Rays fans and the team's announcers and TV commentators.

Contents

Career

In 2000, Navarro was signed by the New York Yankees as an amateur free agent. He became a top-ranked prospect in the Yankees organization in 2004. [1] He debuted with the Yankees on September 7, 2004, playing against his future team, Tampa Bay,[2] and played in seven games, batting .429 (3-for-7) with one RBIs and two runs scored.

Before the 2005 season, Navarro was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a three-team deal that sent Randy Johnson from the Arizona Diamondbacks to the Yankees, Javier Vázquez from the Yankees to the Diamondbacks, Shawn Green from the Dodgers to the Diamondbacks, and several other minor leaguers to the Dodgers.

In 2006, both Navarro and Russell Martin were invited to spring training to compete for the starting catcher. Both played well, but at the end of the spring Navarro was named the Dodgers' catcher, and Martin was sent to the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s. However, while Martin thrived in Las Vegas, Navarro played only adequately in Los Angeles, and showed signs of inexperience. On May 5, 2006, Martin was called-up to the Dodgers after a wrist injury landed Navarro on the disabled list. Martin played well after the injury to Navarro, and kept the job as catcher, as Navarro was demoted to the minor leagues. On June 26, 2006, Navarro was traded along with pitcher Jae Seo and outfielder Justin Ruggiano to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for catcher Toby Hall and pitcher Mark Hendrickson. Navarro made his debut as a Ray on June 28, 2006 against the Florida Marlins going hitless with two walks.

In 2007 he batted only .227 and tied for the lead of all major league catchers in errors, with 14.

Navarro was much improved in 2008, after working on his hitting and his strength in the Venezuelan Winter League with Tiburones de La Guaira, leading his team with a .295 batting average and guiding his pitchers to the third-lowest ERA in the majors (3.60) as of July 10th.[3] On July 6th, it was announced that Navarro was selected to be on the American League squad for the 2008 MLB All-Star Game.

During the 2008 offseason, Navarro went to arbitration with the Rays; he lost and was given $2.1 million dollars.[4]

Of the 122 AL players with at least 350 plate appearances in 2009, only one had a lower OBP, two had a lower AVG, and two had a lower SLG.

Dioner Navarro at bat in a spring training at Progress Energy Park

Personal life

Navarro married his wife, Sherley, at age 18; they have a son, Dioner Jr. (b. 2005), and she has a son, Gerson, from a previous relationship. They have lived in the Tampa Bay Area during offseasons since he was drafted and first signed by the Yankees, and currently live in Riverview, Florida.[5]

He has dealt with a great deal of adversity in his young life. On September 27, 2003, their first wedding anniversary, Sherley suffered a cerebral aneurysm in Tampa. Doctors gave her a 0-5% chance of surviving surgery, and said it was likely she would die on September 30. She survived, and made a full recovery. Navarro has worn the #30 in her honor ever since.[6]

On July 5, 2006, days after his acquisition by the Devil Rays, Navarro's SUV was clipped by another vehicle, causing his SUV to roll over. He and his family escaped serious injury, but the other vehicle fled the scene.[7]

His son, Dioner Jr., was born with multicystic dysplastic kidney. He needed to have one of his kidneys removed in September 2006, and further surgery in 2007.[8]

His mother, who still resides in Venezuela, suffered a cerebral aneurysm in early February 2008. Navarro left the Rays' pre-spring training workouts to be with her and returned when her condition stabilized. [9]

References

External links

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