05/13/09 6:46 PM ET
Navarro trying to cut out passed balls
Catcher has had trouble handling breaking pitches in dirt
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
On Sunday night against the Red Sox, Dan Wheeler threw a passed ball in the eighth inning that saw Navarro try to backhand the ball rather than block it with his body. Unfortunately, the play had a familiar look this season.
"I thought I had a good chance to catch it in the air before it came down [and hit the ground]," Navarro said.
Navarro knows he needs to do better.
"My job as a catcher is to be ready every time," Navarro said. "What happened [in Boston], it was bad for me; it looked bad. I just need to keep doing the routine that I need to do to get better."
Navarro said he is frustrated about the problem continuing to happen and he understands that a catcher not moving his body over to block a ball looks bad.
"I don't worry about what I do at the plate, I worry about what I do behind the plate," Navarro said. "I need to get the job done and that's the bottom line."
Bobby Ramos coaches the Rays catchers and said Navarro's problem has been more of a mechanical problem than a lack of effort on Navarro's part.
"Basically I thought he was real narrow in his stance with a guy on base," Ramos said. "So we've tried to get his feet a little wider outside his shoulder and have his weight on the balls of his feet, and anticipate the breaking ball in the dirt a little more, especially in situations like [the one Sunday night]. If it's a breaking ball, you have to always try to keep the ball in front of you so the runner doesn't advance."
Ramos said Navarro should have blocked the ball Sunday night.
"But he's not going to give you an excuse," Ramos said. "He should have blocked it. He's a big-league All-Star catcher. And he's working on those things to get better."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.