Coffee and Clippings: Daniel Nava is trying to pull off another surprise

Pedro Moura (@pedromoura) of the LA Times spotlights Angel hopeful Daniel Nava at another point in his improbable career…

There he hit .395 and walked more than he struck out. But MLB teams selected 1,502 players in that June draft, and none of them was him. He tried out for the independent league Chico Outlaws, and they turned him down. He tried out for the independent league Long Beach Armada, and they turned him down. A year later, Chico said yes, and he won league most-valuable-player honors there. That led to a deal worth $1 with the Boston Red Sox.

Mezzavilla has followed his friend’s career all the way through. As he recounted the narrative by phone recently, he paused here.

“Really, at this point,” Mezzavilla said, “the idea of even making it to double A wasn’t a viable option that anybody thought would happen. Anybody who ever knew Daniel never once thought that any of this was a possibility.”

Derrick Goold (@dgoold) of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on the Cardinals’ current state of injury prevention…

This spring, the Cardinals established the new Performance Department, a companion to the team’s medical and training staff. The Cardinals hired Dr. Robert Butler from Duke University to oversee the department, bring some data-driven know-how to it, and work in conjunction with head athletic trainer Adam Olsen, who was promoted this past winter. Mozeliak repeatedly used the word “collaborative” to describe the new approach.

It is also about being competitive.

As Major League Baseball clubs discover more ways to be proactive instead of reactive to injuries — prehab vs. rehab — they have found a new way to gain a competitive edge. The training table is this year’s draft board. More than a decade after a numbers-fueled sabermetrics revolution changed how baseball evaluates talent, teams are looking into data for ways to better treat, predict, and, ideally, avoid injuries. This past winter, the Washington Nationals announced an overhaul of their complete medical staff to include “analytic input,” just as the Cardinals have been doing…

Aaron C. Davis (@byaaroncdavis) of the Washington Post chronicles the diplomatic baseball trip to Cuba from President Obama…

Cuba’s communist government is trying an unusual diplomatic tool to crack the economic trade barrier with the United States: baseball.

The Castro regime, the Obama administration and Major League Baseball have been privately talking for months to figure out how to allow Cuban players to come to the United States legally to play in the big leagues.

It’s a move that all sides believe could bind the two countries together over their shared love of the game and be a step in normalizing relations, which President Obama has said he wants to make “irreversible” before leaving office.

Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes), also of the Washington Post, on the Nationals’ hopes of Ryan Zimmerman getting some game action soon.

JUPITER, Fla. — Once upon a time, as Dusty Baker recovered from knee surgery, he had a t-shirt made up.

My knee is okay so don’t ask me no more,” Baker remembered that t-shirt saying, unclear about whether he was paraphrasing or not. “You get tired of people asking you how you feel. ‘Same way I felt yesterday!’”

Baker tries not to ask Ryan Zimmerman how he feels anymore. Zimmerman told him his left foot, bothered by plantar fasciitis since early last season, is doing well. But the Nationals are managing the chronic condition, which requires Zimmerman to wear special insoles and try to minimize time spent in metal cleats on hard infields.