Whenever new Cubs catcher Dioner Navarro would go home questioning whether he still belonged in the big leagues during his struggles the last three seasons, his wife, Sherley, liked to remind him of his baseball claim to fame.
"She'd say, 'You were once traded for Randy Johnson,' and I'm like, 'You know what, you're right about that,' '' Navarro said Thursday.
Indeed, on Jan. 11, 2005, the Diamondbacks traded "The Big Unit'' in a four-player deal built around Navarro, the Yankees' top minor leaguer — and later that day dealt the hot Venezuelan prospect to the Dodgers for Shawn Green.
Occasionally, remembering how he once was so valued helps Navarro overcome bouts of doubt. But Navarro draws regular inspiration from another part of personal history that defines his life, and baseball career, even more — and Sherley triggers those memories without saying a thing. Just seeing his wife, who once stared death in the face, does that.
"She's been through a living hell, but she's still so positive,'' Navarro said. "Everything I've been through with her, I think I can translate not only to young guys in the clubhouse but to veterans. I want to be that guy that when a problem breaks out, everybody comes to for a solution because of my experiences.''
Navarro doesn't wear those experiences on his sleeve as much as his back.
Crouching in a stance against the A's at Hohokam Stadium, Navarro wore a No. 4 jersey that was his second choice. Negotiations continue with teammate Travis Wood over obtaining No. 30, which Navarro always has worn as a tribute to his wife. For fun, Navarro will apply pressure by walking past Wood's locker to display the large tattoo on his right forearm that features a baseball inscribed with "30" inside a cross.
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Catcher Navarro brings perspective, goodwill to Cubs clubhouse
Chicago Tribune | Mar 1