PinstripesPlus: What are your thoughts on the pending deal for Randy Johnson that has you headed to the Los Angeles Dodgers?
Dioner Navarro: Well, this is just the way it is. I would love to stay with the Yankees more than anything else in the world. But, this is a business and I have to go wherever they send me. I don't have a choice. When I signed with the Yankees, I chose this and understood that this could happen someday. I knew if I got good enough that one day I might get traded. I guess that means I am good enough. But, if I go to the Dodgers, my effort is not going to change. I love the Yankees but I'll still go out there with whoever I'm with and give 100% everyday and every game. I'll always give them my best.
PP: Have you gotten any word on this trade from the organization?
DN: No, not really. The Yankees have not contacted me yet or anything, but it looks like something is going to happen soon. Just like everyone else, I've just been watching ESPN to see if anything is going on. The Yankees getting Randy Johnson is a big deal for the Yankees. I was just really sad that it had to be me that goes. But, it is a compliment I think. But, it still shocked me to see my name on ESPN when they broke the news. Since that day, I've been calling by agent, Scott Boras, but I haven't got to talk to him very much. He said he'd get back to me soon. I know he is really busy this time of year. But I think we will all have some answers by next week. I'm as interested to see how this works out as everyone else is.
PP: Back to baseball, for a moment. It seemed that you improved your defense quite a bit behind the plate this year. What do you attribute your improvement to?
DN: Yea, a lot of people have been telling me that I to a lot better this year. I always work really hard and I think that has a lot to do with it. But, I was in spring training for a good while with the Yankees this season. That helped me out a lot I think. Just being there in the Yankee atmosphere was amazing for me. But, being there with Jorge [Posada] was so great for me. Jorge really took me under his wing and showed me a lot of stuff. He started out almost the same way I did and he told me about that. So, he really was like my mentor and I really look up to him in a lot of ways. I don't want to forget "Flash" [John Flaherty] either. He was like the catching coach for me and I will always remember everything he helped me with. I was so excited when they signed him for another season because I thought I would get more time to work with him on my catching. He knows how to handle pitchers and I want to learn to be more and more like that. Him and Jorge are so good. I have had good pros to help me out with the Yankees and I'll always be thankful for that.
PP: Of all the pitchers on the Clipper's staff, which one impressed you the most?
DN: Wow, that is tough to pick one. We had such a great pitching staff in Columbus this year and I was a lot of fun just to catch all those guys. Of course, Colter Bean. You have to talk about him. He had all those strikeouts and he really was just blowing everyone away. If i had to pick one, I think he has the best stuff and he had such a great season. Colter looks like he is going to be a great relief pitcher. But, other guys we had like Scott Proctor and Brett Prinz were great too. Proctor was out there throwing 95-96 MPH and Prinz was throwing really hard too. They were both fun to catch. Our starters were really good too. Alex Graman had a good season. And, I have never seen a guy that knows how to pitch like Brad Halsey. He impresses me so much. He is such a mature pitcher and I like to think that he is going to be an excellent Major League pitcher. Him and Colter Bean were probably the two best that I caught.
PP: Now, how big of a thrill was it when you were called up to the big show?
DN: I can't even describe how big that was for me. I had never been so happy. It was the biggest, biggest, biggest emotion I have ever experienced in my life. The day I found out, I was nearly speechless. I will really never forget the day I knew I was going to be a New York Yankee. It was something I had dreamed about since I was a little kid. But, just getting to play in Yankee Stadium and just stepping on that field was out of this world for me. I just thank god everyday for giving me the ability to play baseball and I think of it as a gift that I was able to get to the big leagues so young. I just hope now that I can get to play in Yankee Stadium again someday. I don't know if anything else will be able to match that.
PP: How satisfying was it for you to make the big leagues at such a young age?
DN: Well, it makes me very happy because the Yankees must like me very much to think enough of me to push me so quickly. I have always worked hard and tried to be to the big leagues as fast i could. I don't think I could have gotten their much faster. I may have been on of the youngest guy in the big leagues in September and that was satisfying to know that. I was happy to get their when I did because I am still young enough to be able to learn so much from the guys that are already there. I hope I get a chance to go back next season and stay in the big leagues for good.
PP: So, are you expecting to play in the big leagues in 2005?
DN: As of now, it doesn't look like I'll be a Yankee next year anyway. But, even if I was, they just signed "Flash" [John Flaherty] for another year. So, with him and Jorge with the Yankees, I would probably be back in AAA again anyway. But, that wouldn't bother me at all. Wherever they want me to go, I'll play there and I will get better. As long as I am improving my game and becoming a more mature player, I don't care where I play. If I got to the Dodgers, I am not sure what their catching situation is. Maybe I'll be in the big leagues there, I am not sure. Again, if I got to AAA, that is fine too. I am just thankful I am able to play baseball. When you put things in perspective, I know the important things in life now. Baseball is something I love, but I hope to play and make a great life for my family someday. They are the world to me.
PP: When you were slumping this year around the trade deadline, did the prospect of being traded distract you at all?
DN: A lot of people have been asking me that lately. I am not really sure if it distracted me or not. But, don't get me wrong, it was definitely in my mind for a long while. I knew my name was in trade talks and when the deadline passed, it was kind of a relief I think. I did start hitting a lot better, but I am not sure if possibly getting traded got in my head at all. I always try to stay focused and not let stuff bother me that goes on off the field.
PP: What do you think was the toughest adjustment was for you when you got to the AAA level?
DN: To me, I think that might be one of the hardest jumps to make in baseball. It is really a whole different level of baseball up there. There are guys who have been in the big leagues who are there, veteran guys, who know what they are doing. So, definitely, the competition was much better in AAA, and the pitching got a lot tougher. It was nothing I couldn't handle and after a while I started to hit the ball really well. But, the biggest adjustment, by far, was the guys around me. With Trenton, I had been with a lot of those guys all the way up through the farm system. So, a lot of my close friends were there. It was hard to leave them behind. I am glad I had one of my buddies come with me [Robinson Cano] or it would have been harder. Not being around a lot of guys I know was tougher at first. But, once I got to know them, they were a great bunch of guys to play with, too.
PP: You mention your friend, Robinson Cano. What is your impression of him?
DN: He is like my brother. I consider him to be my brother. He may be my best friend and it is going to be hard to leave him if this trade goes through. "Robby" is a great friend and a great ballplayer. I always tell him to keep working and keep on pushing and he tells me the same. We give each other a lot of help and it was right that we got to move to AAA together this year. I think he is going to be a star in the big leagues. I haven't seen anyone that can play the infield like him. He is a really good hitter too. He has a nice swing. Who knows, he might get a chance with the Yankees next year. If that happens, I'll be so happy for him. I hope we both get that chance, no matter what team we play for. I know he thinks the same thing. We are like brothers and only wish the best for each other.
PP: Did you get a chance to play in the Venezuelan League this year?
DN: I was suppose to, but I had to come home. My wife had a brain seizure and I couldn't be playing baseball with that going on. My family is the most important thing in the world to me.
PP: How is your wife doing now?
DN: Oh, she is doing fine now. For a few days, I was very scared and I got home as quickly as I could from Venezuela. The doctors took care of her and everything, thankfully, turned out alright. Again, I don't know how many times I prayed and thanked god that she was okay. Baseball is a love for me, but without her, I don't know what I would do. She's had a lot of health problems, but I'll always be there for her. It just makes me that much more determined to be a great baseball player and support my family with a great life.
PP: Well, Dioner, we all wish you the best of luck wherever you may end up in your baseball career. Is there anything you'd like to tell the Yankee fans?
DN: I'd like to say that being a Yankee only for a short time was the greatest experience of my life. I loved the fans on New York and had hoped I'd be able to be part of their team for many years and follow in the steps of Jorge. Being a Yankee is what I've always wanted. Even though I might not be with them anymore, I'll always have a special place for them.
PinstripesPlus.com would like to thank Dioner Navarro for his time and efforts in answering these questions. Also, good luck to him wherever his career may take him.
Q&A with Dioner Navarro
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