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Tampa Bay Rays catcher Dioner Navarro's injury scary, but minor

Rays catcher Dioner Navarro heads off the field on a cart after injuring his leg in a home-plate collision with the Twins’ Jacque Jones. Navarro is expected to be ready for opening day.

JEFF WILCOX | Special to the Times

Rays catcher Dioner Navarro heads off the field on a cart after injuring his leg in a home-plate collision with the Twins’ Jacque Jones. Navarro is expected to be ready for opening day.

PORT CHARLOTTE — What looked from the way C Dioner Navarro writhed in pain Saturday to be a serious left leg injury turned out to be only a bruised nerve, and the Rays look for him to be ready to start the season.

"We're going to take a couple days to evaluate it," executive VP Andrew Friedman said, "but it should not interfere with opening day."

Navarro was injured when Jacque Jones slid awkwardly into him at the plate in the fourth inning of the Twins' 6-2 win. He hopped a few steps before falling and was taken from the field on a cart in clear distress.

"Obviously," manager Joe Maddon said, "he was in some pain."

But X-rays showed no bones broken nor were there torn ligaments, and the diagnosis according to the Rays is a contusion of the peroneal nerve. "It was very positive news," Friedman said.

The collision was, at least in part, the result of Navarro "deking" Jones, a play he uses often, acting as if the throw isn't coming, perhaps to get the runner to slow up, before reaching for the ball. He did it similarly, also to Jones, on a play in the second inning and got him out both times.

"I came in sliding, he didn't give me much of the plate to work with, and I kind of got him when he popped up, but I was trying to find the plate," Jones said. "They were both clean plays."

Said LHP David Price: "I know it was a great deke so he probably thought he could score standing up."

Said Maddon: "I have no problem with the play at all."

Navarro, 26, has sustained a string of odd injuries. He missed a few days last week with a left thumb bruise after being hit by an errant pickoff throw.

An extended absence would have been troubling for the Rays because they project Navarro and Kelly Shoppach, acquired from Cleveland, to both play often. Plus, they don't have an experienced third catcher: John Jaso has played just five games in the majors, Alvin Colina two.

PRICE CHECK: The good news was that Price showed no residual issues in his first regulation outing since being struck by a broken bat March 10. The bad news was that the projected No. 4 starter didn't have a very good outing, allowing 11 hits (to 20 batters) in four innings.

Price, who was also nicked by a batted ball in a simulated game on Monday, said there was no reason for concern. "I wasn't worried about bats coming at me or balls or anything like that, so I don't think that's an issue," he said. "I felt good out there. Arm feels good, body feels good. It's just one of those days."

GAME DETAILS: The Rays, still with an AL-best 12-5 record, made three errors. … Gabe Kapler made two strong throws from center to nail Jones. … Sean Rodriguez looked slick at shortstop, starting three double plays. … OF Justin Ruggiano tripled and is hitting .455.

MISCELLANY: RHP Winston Abreu, delayed a bit in recovering from offseason surgery to clear an aneurysm, is set for his spring debut Monday. … Both of today's games will be carried in something of a simulcast by 620-AM, with Dave Wills in Fort Myers and Andy Freed in Bradenton.

Tampa Bay Rays catcher Dioner Navarro's injury scary, but minor 03/20/10 [Last modified: Saturday, March 20, 2010 9:07pm]
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