NEW YORK -- Good morning from the corner of 49th and Lex, where Yankees fans were cursing a loss directly connected to an injury to their favorite form of expression, the middle finger. Yankees pitcher Hiroki Kuroda took one off his pitching hand and the Bombers took another one on the chin, 7-4, with the Sox going for a three-game sweep Thursday night at the Stadium.
A win Thursday, and the Sox would equal the number of games they won in the Bronx all of last season. They were 3-6 against the Yanks here, which included being swept by an aggregate score of 28-7 on the season’s last weekend.
The Sox won by six runs in Monday’s season opener, matching the largest margin of victory over the Bombers ever on Opening Day in the Stadium, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Wednesday night, the Sox jumped ahead again, 6-0, by the third inning, before Vernon Wells’ three-run home run off Alfredo (Seems Like Old Times) Aceves salvaged a shred of dignity for the Bombers.
Thursday night, Ryan Dempster makes his debut for the Sox while the Sox will see Andy Pettitte for the first time since Oct. 2, 2010, when the only batter he faced who is on the active roster now is Daniel Nava. That brings us to the morning’s trivia question, just for you movie buffs.
Q: What do Johnny Depp, Denzel Washington and Daniel Nava have in common?
(No, Depp and Washington never played indy ball for the Chico Outlaws)
A: They all hate watching themselves on film.
When Nava asks Billy Broadbent, the team’s video coordinator, to dip into his infinite database, it’s never to see his greatest hits. Or his whiffs, for that matter, or any plate appearances in between. He’ll look at video of an opposing pitcher, sure, but he says he gets no pleasure, or benefit, from watching himself.
“I don’t watch video of myself at all, ever,’’ he said Wednesday. “Ever. Some guys love it, but I’m not a big video guy. If I do, I’ll start breaking my swing down, and I’d rather focus on how I’m feeling, how I’m seeing the ball.
“If there’s something glaringly bad, really, really bad with my swing, usually the hitting coach is able to point it out.’’
Nava served as the Sox DH Wednesday, a role which gives him the luxury of slipping back into the clubhouse and watching previous at-bats if he elects to do so. Plenty of DH’s do. Not Nava.
“I generally have a pretty good idea of how someone is working me,’’ he said. “If I can’t remember five minutes ago how he pitched me, I think we have a problem. I’m not saying I’m anti-video but I worked so hard just to get picked out, I spent hours and hours and hours in the cages until I got used to learning, this is how my body feels. Some guys are all about video, and that’s great. I’m one of those guys who isn’t.’’
Since he wasn’t planning to do so, I volunteered to review for Nava what he did Wednesday night while batting second in the Sox order: a first-inning, opposite-field single and a run scored in the first; grazed by a pitch in the second, forcing in a run; ground out to end the third; a double to set up a run in the sixth; a walk in the eighth. That’s five plate appearances, four times on base, in his first go-round as DH in the absence of Ortiz.
Manager John Farrell electing to use the switch-hitting Nava against right-hander Kuroda instead of Jonny Gomes, who had two hits and an intentional walk in five plate appearances Monday, as well as hustling home from second on Jacoby Ellsbury's infield hit.
Two games at DH without Ortiz: 10 PA, 4 H, 2 B, 2 R, 1 HB, 1 RBI. No wonder Ortiz was shuttling down to Fort Myers to ramp up his rehab efforts. Doesn’t want to get Pipped.
“We felt like taking advantage of Daniel’s strong side, which is the left side of the plate, where he gets high on-base percentage,’’ Farrell said after the game. “Played out again tonight, and we’re getting good contribution up and down the lineup.’’
Nava is no stranger to DHing, having done plenty of it for Pawtucket.
“Obviously it’s a lot different here, but the role of preparing yourself is still the same,’’ he said. “I think it helped doing it in Pawtucket, where it’s cold.’’
It was ski-mask chilly Wednesday night, so Nava said he threw on more layers and slipped back into the clubhouse to hit some soft toss. By now, he’s pretty much figured out his routine on the days he’s DHing.
“A lot of it is based on how I’m feeling that day,’’ he said. “The weather, of course. But I have a routine I do to try and be ready, try to be loose.
“I make sure, I’m warm, to be loose. I like to feel like I’m in the game. I want to be out in the dugout. If I need to come down and get some swings, I’ll get some swings, but that’s just going off how I feel on a given day.
“I just kind of err on the side of being more involved in the game. When you’re playing outfield, you’re obviously involved. Being in the dugout just makes me feel like I’m in the game, compared to being a distant bystander.’’
With lefty Pettitte going, Nava will start Thursday night’s game as a spectator. But he could be called upon later as a pinch-hitter, depending on matchups. He’ll be watching. He just won’t be watching himself.