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SoxProspects News

July 6, 2009 at 4:07 PM

Q&A with Yamaico Navarro

The Red Sox signed Yamaico Navarro as an international free agent in September 2005 out of San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic. After playing one season in the Dominican Summer League, the shortstop made his domestic debut with Lowell in 2007, putting together a solid campaign for the Spinners. He impressed for Greenville in early 2008, being named a South Atlantic League All Star, the third year in a row he had been named an all star in his respective league. He finished off the 2008 season strong with a .901 OPS in 22 games for High-A Lancaster. Navarro began this season with the Salem Red Sox, but suffered a hand injury and ended up having surgery to remove the hook of his hamate bone. Chris Mellen of SoxProspects.com recently had a chance to sit down with him while he was rehabbing in Lowell. Navarro has since returned to the Salem lineup full time. Special thanks to hitting coordinator Victor Rodriguez for help with translation.

Chris Mellen: 2007 marked the first time that you had come over to the United States, playing here with Lowell that season. How has the transition been to playing here and what has been the most difficult part?
Yamaico Navarro:
I like to get acclimated to the city that I am playing in, especially the field and the way it plays – seeing how the ball bounces, how the infield plays, since it will be my home park. Obviously, continuing to learn the English language has been something that I have been working on, and that is the biggest transition for a player like me from another country. Overall, things have been going well and I’ve enjoyed coming over to the United States to play ball.

CM: What types of things have you been working on with regards to your offensive game? Where have there been areas of improvement?
: I have been focusing on getting to the field early every day and heading into the cage to get my routine in, really focusing on staying up the middle with my approach. I’ve also been trying to keep my front side in so that I can stay on the ball more. Usually, when I am out of whack it is because I am out of control, so I have been working on keeping that focus up the middle of the diamond.

CM: What has the experience been like in the Red Sox organization? Has there been a specific area that they have you focusing on?
The organization has treated me really well and has given me the opportunity to play baseball every day. They’ve said they’d like me to continue to play shortstop so I have been working on sharpening my skills at the position, like how I read the ball off the bat and continuing to make accurate throws to first base. It isn’t an easy position to play, so I’ve been trying to come out to get my work in by taking groundballs before games, and to do the little things that are necessary to get better at the position so I can continue to play short while I move up the ranks.

CM: Tell us more about playing shortstop. You’ve played some other positions in your career. What is it about shortstop for you?
YN: Since I was a kid I have been playing shortstop. It just feels very natural to me. I’ve tried some of the other positions like you said, but it always seems to come back to shortstop being the one that feels the most comfortable. Things seem to flow for me there and I have been able to make the plays and challenge myself to get better.

CM: Who has been the most influential person for you in your career in baseball? Has there been a player within the organization that has particularly impressed you?
YN: There have been a few people. In my first year, hitting coach Caesar Hernandez really helped me out with things and got my swing going when I was down in the Dominican. When I came over here to the United States, Bruce Crabbe has been a guy who has worked with me on my defense and pushed me to get better at the position. The entire organization has done a lot for me during my career here, but those are a couple of people that have stuck out and made an impact on me. As for players, I’ve always been impressed with Dustin Pedroia.

CM: What has been the biggest adjustment for you as you’ve moved up each rank of the system?
The pitching has been the biggest adjustment. Obviously, the higher you go, the better the pitches, but it sticks out at you. They have much better control as you move up, while also commanding the strike zone better. They’ll locate pitches better and move them inside or outside on you. So, I’ve had to be more disciplined at the plate to adjust, keep myself from chasing pitches, and not going after what they want me to go after.

CM: Over the last couple of the years, the Red Sox minor league system has gotten a lot of attention given the amount of homegrown players that have made a contribution at the major league level. Is that something that sticks out to you guys within the system and how they are willing to promote from within.
: Absolutely. It definitely sticks out how they give an opportunity to the young players and how they aren’t afraid to promote young players to make a contribution at the big league level. I’m hoping that within the next couple of years I get that chance to go to Boston and help the team win. So, yes, it is something that you think about because it doesn’t seem like it is the same in other organizations – especially since the Red Sox have been successful winning the World Series with younger players.

CM: We’ve talked a lot about baseball. What does Yamaico Navarro like to do when he is away from the baseball field?
I like to enjoy time with my family when I am home. The off-season is nice because I work out at the Academy down in the Dominican Republic, and get to spend some time with them while I am practicing in the cages and hitting the weight room to get in shape for the season. This past year, I actually came back up here to Florida early in January to get a jump on the season, so the spending time with my family was something that I did a lot of before coming back to the States.