Get excited: Dodgers activate Dioner Navarro, option A.J. Elllis to triple-A
The Great Dioner Navarro Experiment is about to officially get underway.
Make some attempt to contain your enthusiasm.
The Dodgers activated Navarro prior to Monday’s game in Florida, optioning A.J. Ellis back to triple-A Albuquerque.
The Dodgers are of the conviction that Navarro is an upgrade over Ellis, something I remain skeptical of.
It’s not that anyone thinks Ellis is the second coming of Johnny Bench, but he’s solid to very good behind the plate. He’s never going to hit for power, and he was understandably having trouble keeping up his hot September (.417 last 16 games), but he was still hitting a decent .267 -- which is 74 points higher than Navarro hit last season (.194).
Still, it was obvious from the moment the Dodgers signed Navarro what the pecking order was. Manager Don Mattingly even said in January that Navarro would compete with Rod Barajas for starting time, so you knew where Ellis stood.
Navarro, however, injured his oblique at the end of spring training and has spent the first three weeks of the season on the disabled list. He had been rehabbing the injury at the Dodgers’ Arizona camp.
Now he’s poised to start his second stint with the Dodgers, having first played for them in 2005-2006. The Dodgers traded him to Tampa, thinking they had discovered their long-term catcher in this guy named Russell Martin.
"I’m really excited," Navarro said. "It’s tough when you’re trying to adjust to a new team, when you haven’t even played yet."
Navarro was with the Tampa Bay Rays last season but lost his starting job, cleared waivers, was left off their playoff roster and then went home all upset instead of remaining with the team as requested.
He was non-tendered by the Rays and then signed a one-year deal with the Dodgers for $1 million. In 31 spring at-bats, he hit .258 with a pair of doubles and two RBI.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Los Angeles Dodgers' Dioner Navarro hits a single against the Chicago White Sox during the third inning of a spring training baseball game on March 20, 2011 in Arizona. Credit: Nam Y. Huh / AP