The Pittsburgh Pirates signed Daniel Nava about a month ago. However, it is now clear that he will not be opening the season with the club.
Earlier this month, the Pittsburgh Pirates looked like they had signed a potential outfield option in Daniel Nava. Nava signed a minor league deal with the Buccos on February 9th, although it was reported days earlier. The idea of Nava made sense, he has been a relatively productive player for his role and was a cheap acquisition. Also, he is a veteran switch hitter who would act as a place holder until the team was ready to call up top outfield prospect Austin Meadows in June. After batting .301 last year in 80 games, Nava seemed to have a good shot at making the roster over some younger players who had minor league options left.
Never the less, the Bucs did not sit around and bank on Nava as their primary third outfield option. First, they inked former all-star Michael Saunders to a minor league deal. Then not long after that, the club made their most significant move of the offseason by acquiring outfielder Corey Dickerson from the Rays in a trade. Of course, the Bucs promptly released Saunders since they were able to grab another outfielder. However, they might be regretting releasing Saunders. It was reported today that Nava underwent back surgery on Tuesday and will miss 10-12 weeks according to Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Brink also noted this on the procedure:
"“Dr. Christopher Yeung performed a microdiscectomy, a procedure similar to a debridement that cleaned up some cartilage that was impinging on a nerve. The procedure is frequently used to address herniated discs.”"
Apparently, this is a pretty standard procedure and should not be tough to come back from. Of course, Nava is 35 years of age so it is no guarantee that he will be the same player. For now, this injury news probably has the biggest effect on Bryce Brentz. Brentz and Nava were likely battling for the team’s fourth outfield spot. Both being able to hit from the right side, but Nava may have had the edge being a switch hitter. Brentz is out of minor league options, so in a way this helps guarantee his roster spot and can allow him to make an impression over the first few weeks of the season. Meanwhile, Nava likely will not be back until June between physical rehab and minor league rehab. If that is the case, he may never see the Pittsburgh Pirates roster.