Tigers, D-Backs have interest in Blue Jays' Navarro: Agent


There is a market for Dioner Navarro.

The Arizona Diamondbacks for one team.

And the Detroit Tigers for two.

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“My agent (Melvin Roman) told me both Arizona and Detroit have interest,” Navarro said Monday morning in the visiting clubhouse at Joker Marchant Stadium before the Jays lost to the Tigers.

Navarro was hitting clean-up against Anibal Sanchez. He lined out in his first at-bat and bounced out his other plate appearance. He was charged with a passed ball.

Arizona is in dire need of help behind the plate

General manager Dave Stewart has catchers Tuffy Gosewisch and Oscar Hernandez on the 40-man roster. Gosewisch has started 39 career major-league games while Hernandez was at class-A Bowling Green last year.

Non-roster catchers include Gerald Laird, who has averaged 52 starts the last five seasons; Jordan Pacheco, 19 starts with the Colorado Rockies in 2014; Blake Lalli, triple-A Reno; Matt Pagnozzi, triple-A Nashville; Mark Thomas and Peter O’Brien, both were at double-A Mobile,

The Tigers have Alex Avila, who started 116 games in 2014. Whatever interest exists in Lakeland it would only be as an upgrade over back up Bryan Holaday, who made 42 starts in 2014.

What does Arizona have to offer? Well, does a rebuilding team need a closer like Addison Reed, who earns $4.875 million US this year?

Reed, 26, avoided salary arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal (he requested $5.6 million, while the club made a $4.7 -million offer).

In his first year with Arizona after three seasons with the Chicago White Sox, Reed was 1-7 with a 4.25 ERA. He walked 15 and struck out 69 in 591/3 innings.

On the closing end he saved 32 of 38 chances (84%) and allowed 11 homers. As a point of reference departed closer Casey Janssen closed out 25 of 30 opportunities (83%).

Navarro for Reed probably won’t get the deal done.

Reliever Brad Ziegler, 36, earns $5 million this season after going 5-3, with a 3.49 ERA. He appeared in 68 games, walking 24 and striking out 54 in 67 innings.

Everyone in baseball knows that the Jays need relief help ... just as everyone knows the Diamondbacks need someone to go behind the plate.

“I want to play every day,” Navarro said. “I don’t want to be a back-up. I know I can help this team.”

Navarro still may get the chance.

Edwin Encarnacion is sidelined with a minor back injury, but when he’s healthy the man had impressive numbers last year. He had 27 doubles, 34 homers, .268 average and an .901 OPS, despite playing only 128 games due to a quad injury.

Encarnacion will be in the Jays every day lineup. The question is will he be at first or DH.

The next question is do the Jays play Justin Smoak at first or Navarro as the every-day DH?

Smoak would be best option defensively, but the switch hitter had 13 doubles, seven homers, 30 RBIs and a .614 OPS in 80 games with the Seattle Mariners.

Navarro had 22 doubles, 12 homers, 69 RBIs and a .712 OPS last year in 139 games, but lost his job when the Jays signed Russell Martin. It was a repeat of 2006 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. That year Navarro was injured, Martin took over, L.A. won 22 of the next 24 games and kept the No. 1 job.

Navarro was dealt to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays June 27, with Jae Weong Seo and Justin Ruggiano for Toby Hall, Mark Hendrickson and cash.

With a second-straight solid outing by Daniel Norris against the Tigers on Monday, the Jays could put Aaron Sanchez into the bullpen.

As the saying goes ... it’s early.


When not keeping an eye on the Jays, GM Alex Anthopoulos has been scouting lefty Juan Hillman of Haines City, Fla., and right-hander Triston McKenzie of Royal Palm Beach, Fla.

Hillman, who is headed to Central Florida, is ranked ninth by Perfect Game Scouting Service, while McKenzie, a Vanderbilt commit, is 22nd.

Earlier, the Jays most trusted set of scouting eyes, Dana Brown, was in on UC-Santa Barbara right-hander Dillon Tate (18th) and Jays scout Chuck LaMarr has seen TCU Horned Frog right-hander Riley Ferrell (14th).

The Jays lost their first-round pick (16th) for signing free-agent Martin, but gain a pick at 29th as compensation for losing outfielder Melky Cabrera to the Chicago White Sox.


Lefty Daniel Norris didn’t have the most impressive line in Florida on Monday afternoon.

It was more of a Dave Stieb line: Complete with a blooper and a bleeder.

Norris worked two plus innings in his second start. After a 1-2-3 first, he faced six men in the second and two in the third before leaving.

Bidding for a spot in the rotation, Norris didn’t harm his chances allowing four hits and three runs. He threw 47 pitches (11 more than his first start against the Baltimore Orioles), 34 for strikes.

Norris’ fastball sat at 93-94 mph on the radar guns, according to scouts, hitting 96.

“It felt pretty much the same as the first start (in Sarasota),” Norris said. “Sometimes it’s tough to get the ball going where you want it. I made my pitches and was around the zone.”

Norris struck out Rajai Davis and Anthony Gose to open the game and popped up Yoenis Cespedes.

Al Avila doubled off the left field wall to open the second. Nick Castellanos rolled a single into left and with two out a James McCann’s bloop fell before Norris whiffed Andrew Romine ending the inning.

“I talked to John (Gibbons, manager) about starting off Davis with a breaking ball to open the third,” Norris said.

Davis battled, fouling off a number of pitches to draw a nine-pitch walk, stole second and scored when Gose lined a pitch off Norris’ glove for a double.

A few inches the other way and he catches the ball.

Gose took off for third as catcher Dioner Navarro lobbed the ball back to reliever Preston Guilmet, who threw wildly and in a hurry to third allowing Gose to score.

“I saw Anthony do that at Buffalo,” said Norris, who was watching from the dugout by then.


The first time for me visiting Joker Marchant Stadium was in the early 1980s covering the Montreal Expos.

Tom Gage was here ... covering the Tigers for the Detroit News like a fresh tarp, as he had since 1979.

Gage won the J.G. Taylor Spink award in December “for meritorious contributions to baseball writing” in voting by the Baseball Writers of America Association.

He was a fixture every year since, along with hall of famer Al Kaline.

Once asked why he had not written a book, Gage answered, “Because I write the equivalent of two every season.”

Triple-A Buffalo hitting coach Richie Hebner came out of the clubhouse Monday and asked “where’s Tom Gage? I want him to write a book on me: 22 years in the majors, 17 in the minors, I dug graves for 35 years and drove a hearse for 12. I have stories to tell.”

Gage could pound it out: Side bars, notes, pluggers, game-over stories, rainy-day stories and write-thru gamer stories.

One night at Comerica Park in 2012 manager Blue Jays John Farrell used Omar Vizquel to pinch hit and the veteran singled with two out and the Jays losing 3-2.

On the second pitch, Vizquel was off and running. Al Avila threw him out.

Game over.

I thought it was a dumb decision to run with Rajai Davis at the plate. Down to one out the reward (of stealing second) is not worth the risk (game over).

Both Farrell and Vizquel defended the attempt. I argued it had to be wrong because the runner was out.

Next day I picked up the News and read under Gage’s byline:

“Ever seen a game end with a 45-year-old trying to steal second? Maybe in a fantasy camp? ”

It was one of those “wish I’d written that” moments that happened so often in Detroit ... reading Gage.

Gage wasn’t here Monday.

The decision makers at the News removed him from the baseball beat.


Jays president Paul Beeston drove to Syracuse Monday to the attend the funeral of former Syracuse Chiefs general manager Tex Simone.

It’s been rough off-season for the Jays front office. Many have attended the funerals of Pat Hentgen’s father, also named Pat in Michigan, Buffalo Bisons GM Michael Buczkowski’s father Stanley in Buffalo; former Toronto Star trail-breaking scribe Alison Gordon and former Jays minor league instructor Bill Monbouquette in Medford, Mass.

“Five funerals? This winter I did 70,” said Hebner, who drives a hearse for Ginley funeral homes in Franklin, Medway and Walpole, Mass.


Super scout Gary Hughes was covering the Jays-Tigers game. Before becoming the Montreal Expos scouting director and helping Dave Dombrowski put together the 1997 World Series champion Florida Marlins, he coached high school ball at Marin Catholic High.

Hughes spotted Jays broadcaster Jerry Howarth walking by and explained Howarth had played for Novato High against his school.

“He was in his day,” said Hughes, “a young Robinson Cano.”


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