Memorable All-Stars in (Devil) Rays History: Dioner Navarro (2008)

Yes, believe it or not, the Rays have sent a catcher to the mid-summer classic. Dioner Navarro earned the nod to back up Joe Mauer and Jason Varitek in the final season of the old Yankees Stadium in what is easily his career year at the plate with a .330 wOBA.

In 2007, Navarro had a slash line of just .227/.286/.356 in 434 plate appearances with the Devil Rays, but the exorcism of the team nickname affected nobody more than Navi who hit .310/.361/.424 in the season's first half with 20 extra base hits to join Scott Kazmir and Evan Longoria who made it in on the fan vote. That marked the first time since the 1999 season that the Rays had more than just the required representation in the All-Star game.

Navarro entered the game in the seventh as a pinch-hitter and promptly struck out. He compounded that problem with a wild throw into centerfield attempting to throw out Miguel Tejada stealing who eventually came around to score the go-ahead run. Navarro redeemed himself throwing out Christian Guzman in the 9th inning after the American League had tied it up to force extra innings. Navi reached base in the 10th inning and attempted to carry he and the piano he was carrying to home plate to score the winning run after a Michael Young single but was thrown out at the plate. He later was the hero in the 15th inning when his single moved Justin Morneau into scoring position and started the final scoring for the game that led to a 4-3 victory for the American League and a 12th consecutive victory over the senior circuit.

Navarro made the most of his appearance as he caught eight inning in the marathon game and continued his hot-hitting in the season's second half as the Rays went on to win both the American League East and the American League pennant. Navarro's fortunes changed for the worse after that and his career with the Rays organization ended with him unceremoniously leaving the club after the 2010 regular season when he was not made part of the post-season roster but his magical 2008 season remains the best one for a full-time catcher in franchise history.

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