CHICAGO – Dioner Navarro, superstitious to his core, anxiously waited for his lost bat to make its way down from the Wrigley Field grandstand and back to the field.
The bat slipped out of his hands during his sixth inning at-bat, landing nine rows behind the Cubs’ dugout. Luckily for Navarro, the fan was willing to give back the bat that had launched two home runs into the left field bleachers Wednesday against White Sox pitcher John Danks.
Although Navarro walked on the next pitch, he stepped to the plate in the seventh wielding that same bat and hoping for more magic. Navarro got his wish.
He crushed a 92 mph fastball from Sox reliever Brian Omogrosso onto Sheffield Avenue for a three-run homer, Navarro’s third home run of the game. It marked the first multihomer game of Navarro’s career, and he finished with six RBIs in the Cubs’ 9-3 win against the Sox.
His performance earned him the first curtain call of his career after his third home run and a shaving cream pie to the face after the game. Navarro said he didn’t approach his seventh-inning at-bat trying to hit another homer.
“It crosses your mind a little bit after you hit two, especially having limited playing time,” Navarro said. “Fortunately, I got a good hitter’s count, 2-0, and I went for it and I was fortunate enough to hit it out of the ballpark.”
The switch-hitting Navarro couldn’t stop smiling after the game, and for good reason – he recorded single-game career highs in home runs, RBIs and runs scored (four). He also became the first Cubs catcher since George Mitterwald in 1974 to hit three home runs in a game. Navarro plans to keep using Wednesday’s bat, but if it breaks at some point, he said with a smile, “I’m gonna cry.”
Navarro’s power display impressed his teammates, including first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who likened his performance to Navarro’s favorite soccer player Lionel Messi scoring a hat trick. Navarro became the first Cub to homer from both sides of the plate since Mark Bellhorn in 2002.
“That was awesome,” Rizzo said. “That last one was a bomb. It’s going to be hard to put on an encore tomorrow.”
Manager Dale Sveum curtailed any expectations of Navarro earning more playing time because of Wednesday’s performance. In one game, Navarro matched the number of home runs he had hit in his previous 55 at-bats this season.
“That was a pretty special day, something he’ll never forget,” Sveum said. “ … [Welington] Castillo’s our starting catcher, let’s not get carried away with a guy having a great game.”
For his part, Navarro is OK with his role backing up Castillo and being one of Sveum’s first pinch-hitting options. After all, why mess with what’s working?
“We know what [the situation] is,” Navarro said. “I’m really happy with the position I’m in right now. Welington’s been doing a really good job for us.”
• Meghan Montemurro covers the White Sox and Cubs for Shaw Media. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Sox Insider and Inside the Cubs blogs at NWHerald.com and on Twitter @Sox_Insider and @InsideTheCubs.