Navarro, Rays now can breathe easily

The catcher is okay after a scary throat injury, and B.J. Upton should miss little time.

By Marc Topkin
Published June 10, 2007

MIAMI - Dioner Navarro doesn't remember much of what happened after he was struck in the throat Friday by a bounced pitch. But from what he does recall, and what Devil Rays trainer Ron Porterfield has told him, it was a frantic situation.

"All I remember was that it was hard for me to breathe. It was one of those situations where I needed to calm down, but I couldn't, " Navarro said. "All I was trying to do was breathe, but I couldn't. ... It was a scary moment."

Navarro, remarkably, sustained no serious injuries, though he was sporting an ugly scar, in the semicircle of a baseball's stitches, where the ball struck the top of his chest before hitting his throat, and he had a slight raspy tone to his voice.

"I feel much better, " he said. "It's a little sore in my throat. When I swallow, it hurts a little bit."

Manager Joe Maddon said Navarro would be available for emergency duty today and could return to the starting lineup Tuesday against San Diego.

"Navi's fine, " Maddon said. "Everything checked out."

The evaluation of B.J. Upton's strained left quadriceps muscle was good as well, but Maddon said the speedy second baseman/centerfielder won't be available to play before Tuesday.

"We don't think it's anything real serious, " Maddon said. "We don't know if it will be by the time we get back, or a day or two after that, that he's ready to start again."

Upton, who spent much of Saturday being treated with ice, electric stimulation and massage, wasn't sure of the timetable but maintained he doesn't need to be placed on the 15-day disabled list.

"It's just sore, " Upton said. "We'll see how it feels on Tuesday."

Navarro was carried off the field on a stretcher and taken by ambulance to Broward General Hospital for tests, receiving oxygen en route as his chest protector was cut off. "After we got in the ambulance, I came back to myself, I was breathing by myself, " Navarro said.

He returned to the team hotel about 2 a.m. and joined the Rays at the stadium Saturday, where he was given a "precautionary" follow-up exam by a Marlins team doctor.

The incident provided anxious moments for Navarro's wife, Sherley, who had left the game early and, with her cell phone battery drained, didn't know what happened until she got to the hotel and received a call from assistant clubhouse manager Jose Fernandez. Navarro's parents, watching in Venezuela, and his in-laws, in Tampa, were frantically trying to get information. "When I checked my phone, I had like 13 messages, " he said.