Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 5/18/12

Boston outfielder Daniel Nava and Cincinnati third baseman Mike Costanzo were barely on their parent team’s radar as recently as spring training, yet they are wearing major league uniforms.

      Nava is an Independent original, starting his pro career as an undrafted free agent in Chico, CA (Golden League) in ’07, the summer after he finished at Santa Clara.  He worked his way to 60 games with the Red Sox two summers ago, including that unbelievable debut when he smacked the first major league pitch he saw for a grand slam.  Yet, he did not play a day in the majors last season, and was not even a non-roster invitee to camp this spring.

      But the switch-hitting 29-year-old has given the Bosox a big boost by hitting safely in all seven games since he came up from Triple-A Pawtucket, RI, going 9-for-19 (.474) with four doubles, a homer and an important seven RBI while getting on base at an amazing .643 clip.  “We called him up at the end of spring training and he played really well (6-for-14 with a .467 on-base percentage for eight games),” Manager Bobby Valentine told The Boston Globe.

      Costanzo’s story was similar with a solo home run his only hit in three games (1-for-5) in spring training with the Reds.  The lefty-swinging 28-year-old had not worn a major league uniform in the regular season before or after his 16-game comeback performance in 2010 in the Atlantic League (Camden, NJ) when he refused Baltimore’s urging that he switch to pitching and was released.  That changed last weekend when veteran Scott Rolen was disabled.  Costanzo got the call after six homers and 24 runs batted in in 34 games split between the Reds’ top two farm clubs this spring.  He picked up a sacrifice fly on a deep drive to left in his very first major league appearance as a pinch hitter Sunday, and has appeared in a similar role in five consecutive games (0-for-4), including Thursday.

        (This is an excerpt from the column Bob Wirz writes year round on Independent Baseball.  Fans may subscribe for 2012 at WirzandAssociates.com, enjoy his blogs, AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com and IndyBaseballChatter.com,  or comment to RWirz@aol.com.  The author has 16 years of major league baseball public relations experience with Kansas City and as spokesman for two Commissioners and lives in Stratford, CT.)

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