Unwillingness to work ultimately does in catcher Dioner Navarro
It wasn’t the sub-.200 batting average, the miserable .276 on-base percentage or even the spotty defensive play that finally did in catcher Dioner Navarro.
That was all part of it, but the biggest thing that led to Navarro suddenly being designated for assignment by the Dodgers on Tuesday was his work ethic, or lack thereof.
"I’m a guy; I believe in work," said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. "Very simple. I believe you have to work and work and work, and that’s if you’re going good. I don’t care who you are. Matt Kemp has to keep going, has to keep getting after it. I just believe in that.
"And at the position we were 11 games back, and he just wasn’t fitting into what we believed in about how you go about your business."
Mattingly said Navarro’s approach had not taken a turn, but that it had been consistent all season. And that he had previously talked to him about it.
"We were all up front," Mattingly said. "We didn’t hide anything. We had talked about some of the issues we’d had awhile back, the way I felt about it. It got to a point where it was time."
Navarro had not endeared himself to the Tampa Bay Rays last season, when he failed to make their postseason roster, was asked to remain with the team but instead went home.
But there were no signs Navarro had been a problem in the Dodgers' clubhouse. It was about his approach, his dedication, his desire to improve. All those weak, back-handed attempts to stop outside pitches were only reflective of his lack of commitment. Navarro didn’t put in the preparation, both physically and mentally.
"That’s all part of what we talked about," Mattingly said. "It’s not just physical; it’s being ready to play every day."
Rod Barajas and A.J. Ellis are the current catchers. Barajas, who turns 36 on Sept. 6, is on a one-year contract. Ellis is 30 and generally viewed as a potential backup.
"He’s gotten better -- that’s what I like about A.J.," Mattingly said. "Is he a front-line catcher? I don’t know."
Mattingly said that next week the Dodgers are also likely to call up Tim Federowicz, the catcher acquired in the trade last month for minor-league outfielder Trayvon Robinson, who is currently at triple-A Albuquerque.
But one catcher who won’t be here next week or next year is Navarro. Players now know Mattingly is serious about his constant comments about effort. Of course, since Navarro had previously spent parts of two seasons here, the Dodgers should have known about his work ethic.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Dioner Navarro follows through on a home-run swing in the eighth inning of a 1-0 victory over the Houston Astros at Dodger Stadium on June 19. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times