NEW YORK — Catcher Dioner Navarro found a way to laugh Saturday morning, joking that maybe he would finally have some good luck and heal fast. He certainly has had his share of bad, the latest being Friday's freak injury that will keep him sidelined for at least two weeks.
Navarro was trying to avoid more serious injury after slipping on the dugout steps at Yankee Stadium, grabbing the netting attached to the railing but instead slicing the middle and ring fingers on his right hand. He ended up on the 15-day disabled list.
"I was just trying to not break my neck or my wrist or my shoulder, so I grabbed for something, but I missed everything and just grabbed the net," Navarro explained. "I looked at it and freaked out. … I almost threw up when I saw it. I was like, 'Wooo, I didn't know a piece of net could do this damage.' It was bad."
His ring finger was hurt worse, with a vertical cut requiring eight stitches; a smaller gash on his middle finger took four. It was the third time since the middle of last season Navarro has ended up in the hospital, plus he has endured a series of family medical traumas, including his mother suffering a brain aneurysm in Venezuela just before spring training.
"I see the positive thing about this," Navarro said, "it could have been worse."
LIKE OLD TIMES: Veteran C Mike Difelice got a late-Friday promotion from Triple-A Durham and an early Saturday morning flight from Toledo, Ohio, where the Bulls were playing, through Cincinnati and back to the big leagues.
One of the first people to greet him after his late-morning arrival was former Rays catching mate John Flaherty, now a Yankees TV broadcaster.
Acknowledging the unfortunate circumstances of Navarro's injury, Difelice, 38, nevertheless was pleased to be back in the majors, and is likely to start Monday.
Difelice's promotion leaves the Rays without an experienced backup at Durham, where Hector Gimenez will get most of the work, and one possibility is re-signing Josh Paul, who was released at the end of the spring.
RHP Juan Salas' extended delay in getting a visa actually helped the Rays in this situation. Because Salas hadn't reported by opening day, MLB put him on the restricted list, which temporarily removes him from the 40-man roster, creating a spot for the Rays to add Difelice without having to risk losing another player.
KAZ GOOD AGAIN: LHP Scott Kazmir had another encouraging bullpen session — 60 pitches, including sliders and changeups — Saturday in St. Petersburg and will advance to throwing batting practice Tuesday at Tropicana Field.
"I was letting it go," Kazmir said. "I was breaking off a slider and wasn't really held back at all. It felt great."
Kazmir's tentative path back from the Feb. 26 elbow strain was to include two batting practice sessions and three extended spring/minor-league games before a late-April return, but he said it could be accelerated.
"We have a couple things that's in place right now that we can maybe cut out," Kazmir said.
"Or maybe it's a good idea to keep it in. We're playing it all by ear."
LHP Kurt Birkins is progressing in his recovery from an inflamed nerve in his left elbow and also may throw at the Trop on Tuesday, though he is likely headed to Durham.
MISCELLANY: Thursday's rainout in Baltimore will be made up Sept. 23 as the first game of a doubleheader starting at 5:05 p.m. … With 325 saves, Troy Percival is one shy of matching ex-Ray Roberto Hernandez for 11th on the all-time list. … After today's game, FSN debuts its Inside the Rays show, with an in-depth look at 1B Carlos Pena.
Staff writer Joe Smith contributed to this report.