Family shares in Omar Narvaez’s Opening Day joy

SHARE Family shares in Omar Narvaez’s Opening Day joy

Omar Narvaez. (AP)

When catcher Omar Narvaez learned White Sox manager Rick Renteria was giving him the nod to start on Opening Day, his first text went to his father, Omar Jose Narvaez.

“He was so proud of me because he played a little baseball, too,’’ Narvaez said Tuesday. “My family, they all played baseball, even my grandpa. My entire family is hugely proud.’’

Narvaez, 25, made a quick climb to the majors after the Sox snagged him from the Rays in the minor-league portion of the 2013 Rule 5 draft. He handled pitchers well enough and hit .267 with a .350 on-base percentage over 34 games last season, including 30 starts, after the Sox called him up in early July.

Geovany Soto, 34, returned in the offseason to provide a veteran presence in a catching platoon that figures to see the left-handed-hitting Narvaez get a sizable chunk of work.

It all started with catching Jose Quintana on Opening Day, which is a big deal to Narvaez, too.

“It’s something that I dreamed about, and now it comes true,’’ he said. “I just have to do my best.’’

Narvaez said his father was floored because “he never imagined I would catch the first day. He assumed I would make the team, but not as the No. 1 guy [for the opener].’’

Quintana had a 3.15 ERA in his five starts caught by Narvaez last season, almost at his norm for the season (3.20), compared to 2.37 with Dioner Navarro behind the plate in 15 games and 4.32 with Alex Avila catching. Quintana had a 2.70 ERA in 10 games caught by Soto in 2015.

“He’s pretty fun to catch, as long as we stay on the same page,” Narvaez said. “We do a good job with that — we watch video and talk over the plan before the game. We know what we need to do.’’

He’s got next

James Shields, who has started seven Opening Days for the Royals, Rays and Padres during his career, is the scheduled starter for the Sox’ second game Wednesday, weather permitting. Shields was slated to start an exhibition game in Milwaukee on Friday but worked on the side instead.

“I feel good,’’ Shields said. “I just wanted to have more of a controlled setting and work on a few things. Most of my spring trainings, I only had six starts anyway, and that would have been my seventh.’’

Shields, 35, needs to bounce back after what was easily the worst season (6-19, 5.85 ERA) of his career, split between the Padres and Sox.

This and that

Todd Frazier went 0-for-4 but lined out to center and lined out to the warning track in left.

*Tigers left fielder Justin Upton left after the sixth inning with a left-knee bruise.

*The Sox were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.


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