Efren Navarro trying to model himself after ex-Cub Mark Grace
Subscribe for unlimited digital access
Try one month for $1!
Efren Navarro grew up in Southern California emulating former major-leaguer J.T. Snow and Cubs All-Star Mark Grace, both left-handed first basemen like himself.
“Being left-handed, being a first baseman, and the fact that he would choke up on the bat,” Navarro said of Grace. “I enjoyed his swing and just watching him play.”
Navarro said that he strives to play much like Grace and Snow, fielding well, hitting the gaps and, “every once in a while,” connecting for power.
The Cubs called up Navarro from Class AAA Iowa on Tuesday to replace the injured Anthony Rizzo (back). He has been a pinch hitter three times and cracked a single in his first at-bat.
“Joe [Maddon] told me he was going to use me and to stay ready,” Navarro said.
Navarro was a 50th-round draft pick by the Angels in 2007. He has spent parts of six seasons in the majors, previously playing for the Angels and Tigers. He also signed with the Mariners, Cardinals and Orioles but never appeared in a game for them.
It hasn’t been the easiest road to the majors, but Navarro is grateful for every minute of it. He has played alongside and learned from Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera and Anthony Rizzo.
“They are all in control,” Navarro said. “They don’t let the game get too high or too low. And for me, that’s the one thing I have learned — to stay in control of what I do. Everything else will fall into place.”
Navarro was a non-roster invitee to spring training and batted .234 with three doubles, a home run and six RBI in 21 games.
“Getting that call is a testament to my work and my faith,” Navarro said of joining the Cubs. “If I have a jersey on, that’s the best.”