CLEVELAND, Ohio – The first call Josh Naylor received after news of his trade from San Diego to Cleveland broke on Monday was from his younger brother, Bo Naylor, a first-round draft pick of the Indians in 2018.
But while the elder Naylor waits for the day when he can take the field with his sibling for a major league game, he will settle for playing alongside Franmil Reyes, a friend and ex-Padres teammate whom he considers a brother in a completely different context.
“He’s family to me, man,” Naylor said of Reyes after Cleveland’s 10-1 win in Kansas City on Tuesday. “His family is my family and I love him to death.”
Naylor said he developed a close relationship with Reyes during their time in San Diego before Reyes was traded to Cleveland last July. Reyes confided to reporters in a postgame Zoom interview that his children even refer to Naylor as “Uncle Josh.”
“I love it,” Naylor said. “He has beautiful children. He’s like a brother to me and I’ll take care of him like one of my own.”
Naylor and Reyes each had memorable games on Tuesday with Reyes collecting five hits including a two-run home run in the second inning and Naylor posting his first two Indians hits and an RBI. For Naylor, the scene was reminiscent of Reyes’ time with the Padres where he demonstrated his true power potential.
“It doesn’t matter where he plays, he’s going to be the same monster he is,” Naylor said. “He has incredible power to all parts of the field and he’s disciplined. He swings hard and he makes things happen throughout the game.”
Meanwhile, Naylor’s actual brother has been working out at Cleveland’s alternate training site in Eastlake since July. Now big brother will be just up the road playing at Progressive Field and the Naylors are that much closer to realizing a childhood dream of playing together on the same big league team.
“Hopefully he’s here soon and in this lineup with me,” Josh Naylor said. “Hopefully the stars align and we are in the same lineup and get to hang out every day and live together. It should be an exciting time.”
Naylor said his family was “over the moon” with excitement when they found out about the trade, but for now his instructions from the club are to play his own game and enjoy himself. Joining the Indians gives Naylor a chance to play regularly in the outfield, where he started Tuesday’s game, or at first base, where he finished it.
“I’m kind of good going anywhere,” Naylor said. “The Padres prepared me good enough to play the outfield or play first or wherever I’m put. They really helped me grow my game a lot and put me in a position where I can potentially succeed in any position I play.”
Naylor said no player is ever complete and there are plenty of areas that he needs to continue working on in order to establish himself in the major leagues.
“If I can just get a little better every day whether it’s at first base or left field, right field, wherever it is, that’s what I’ll do,” Naylor said. “I’m just going to try and grow there and be the best player for the Indians.”
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