Day 3: Efren Navarro takes on the winter leagues

Efren Navarro, American-born but of Mexican descent, wanted to hone his craft in the winter leagues this offseason. But he couldn’t get into a Mexican team, so instead, he spent 1 1/2 months playing in the Dominican Republic.

“It was definitely a learning experience,” Navarro said. “The fans. They’re rowdy. The food out there, too, was a little different. It was different. It was good. I actually liked the food out there, the chicken and rice.

Navarro, 25, got his first taste of the big leagues last season via an eight-game stint with the Angels. He kind of had a breakout year in the Minors, batting .317 with 12 homers and 73 RBIs while winning a Gold Glove for Triple-A Salt Lake, but he’s got very little hope trying to crack a roster that has Albert Pujols, Kendrys Morales and Mark Trumbo as first basemen.

That aside, Navarro is just focusing on getting better and letting the chips fall where they may. That included a 27-game stint with the Aguilas, for whom he batted .227 with four homers and 13 RBIs. In the Dominican, Navarro got his first taste of Dominican food (“We ate that, like, every day,” he said), went to a local Chili’s and TGI Friday’s when he wanted American food (yep, they had those there) and was put up in a pretty nice hotel. All good.

Problem?

“When I did a couple interviews out there, they were like, ‘We’re here with the Cuban Efren Navarro,’ and I’m like, ‘Oh, no, I’m Mexican,'” Navarro said. “I actually had a couple of interviews like that — ‘We’re here with the Puerto Rican Efren Navarro.’ ‘Panamanian.'”

Some notes from Wednesday …

  • Manager Mike Scioscia has quite the juggling act this spring, with the situations of Trumbo, Morales, Bobby Abreu, Alberto Callaspo and Maicer Izturis all uncertain. How does he plan to juggle it?
  • Trumbo was medically cleared for full-on baseball activities.
  • More good news: Morales’ progress has been good so far.
  • Being a No. 2 hitter should be a pretty sweet gig on the Angels this year. Could the beneficiary be Howie Kendrick?
  • Hank Conger quickly learned from Bengie Molina, the veteran catcher who was a guest instructor in Angels camp. Molina taught him Tuesday how to quietly shift his body for certain pitches so hitters don’t notice.
  • Jorge Cantu‘s Minor League contract includes a May 1 opt-out.
  • I’m doing a live Angels chat on MLB.com at noon MT tomorrow. Stop on by if you get a chance.
  • And the Heat open up the unofficial second half against the Trailblazers on TNT.

Alden 

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