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Life keeps piling on Navarro
As he begins a critical year, the catcher faces more medical fears for his young son.
By MARC TOPKIN
Published March 5, 2007
ST. PETERSBURG - It would seem Dioner Navarro has been through enough.
There was the medically miraculous saga involving wife Sherley's recovery from a 2003 brain aneurysm. The frightening hit-and-run auto accident he and his family were involved in shortly after being acquired by the Devil Rays during the summer. The surgery his infant son had in September to remove his left kidney, forcing the Devil Rays catcher to miss the last week of the season.
Now as Navarro, 23, prepares for what he hopes will be the season he establishes himself as a full-time and frontline major-leaguer, he faces another family medical concern.
Dioner Jr., now 19 months old, needs another operation to correct problems with his urethra and remaining kidney. The surgery was supposed to be performed last month but had to be delayed when he developed severe ear and respiratory infections. The family is hoping he is well enough to have it done this month so Navarro doesn't miss any regular-season games.
"It's been kind of tough," Navarro said. "This is my No. 1 priority: When I get here to the field I know it's my job and I have to put that in the back. But he is my son. I know he'll be fine. His mama is taking care of him. I just think positively the whole time. I just stay focused on being positive, and everything is going to be fine."
Dioner Jr. was born with multicystic kidney dysplasia and had surgery when the cysts and kidney became abnormally large. Navarro said doctors were not able to identify why he was affected. "Nobody knows why," he said. "It just happened to be him. Nobody can explain it."
Now the boy has a potentially dangerous problem with urine backing up in the urethra.
"We've got a pretty good chance he's going to be okay, like 95 percent," Navarro said.
Navarro reflects on what he has dealt with in a perspective far beyond his years. He wears No. 30 to mark the date - Sept. 30, 2003 - doctors said his wife wouldn't live past, but otherwise he treats the episodes with little drama.
"It's part of life," he said. "There is nothing I can do about it. I've been through a lot and it helps me keep my mind sharp. You can't control what you can't control, and you can't get crazy about it."
He is thankful for the opportunity to play near his Riverview home so his wife (who requires regular checkups) and son have the convenience and comfort of being treated by the same doctors and medical personnel year-round, and he has the peace of mind of being with them (and 8-year-old stepson Gershon).
"That has been wonderful," he said. "I know they'll be waiting at home for me every day."
Marc Topkin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8801. View his blog at blogs.tampabay.com/rays.