Mike Napoli

Mike Napoli drops to eighth in order, has another rough night

John Tomase
June 23, 2015 - 1:35 pm

Mike Napoli received a text message from manager John Farrell before Tuesday's game against the Orioles informing he'd be batting eighth. After another brutal night at the plate on Tuesday, he's probably looking at a day out of the lineup altogether. Napoli went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts in a 6-4 loss to the Orioles. "A rough night for Mike," Farrell said. "Some swing and miss there where he's had some decent success against [Ubaldo] Jimenez coming into tonight's game against him. Mike's working through, searching to gain any kind of consistency and right now, a tough night tonight." Batting eighth was a first for Napoli as a member of the Red Sox. He has spent the bulk of his Boston career hitting fourth, fifth, or sixth, and has never started a game lower than seventh. But check out Napoli's career history, and you'll see he has actually made more starts in the No. 8 spot (227) than anywhere else. And save for 12 at-bats in the two-hole, he also owns his best average (.266), slugging percentage (.533), and OPS (.898) there. "That was my Anaheim days," Napoli noted on Tuesday afternoon. Napoli has hit lower in the order because he has played for some loaded offenses in Anaheim (Vladimir Guerrero, Torii Hunter, Garrett Anderson, Mark Teixeira) and Texas (Adrian Beltre, Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Michael Young). He's not taking his current demotion as an insult. Batting just .203 entering Tuesday's 6-4 loss to the Orioles, he knew he wasn't getting the job done. Those feelings doubtlessly only intensified after his average fell to .199. "I don't take anything personally," Napoli said before the game. "Of course I want to hit fourth, but I'll do anything I can to help us win. It is what it is. It's right in front of me. I see what's going on. I've just got to come through and be the player I know I can be. That's what I'm working towards." He believes he's making strides, with a homer and two multi-hit games in his last six outings. "It's kind of been like I have a good game, and then not so much," Napoli said. "But as far as feeling better, I do. I'm going to keep going and keep working on things I need to work on. "I think my better years I've been able to minimize some of the times when I've been struggling. I kind of got into a little bit of a hole early in the year. I'm not trying to hit .270 in one day. I understand that. Just keep grinding, keep going. I think my best year, when I hit .320, if you want to look it up, I was hitting like .200 going into the All-Star break. I know the feeling. I've been there before. I have the confidence that I'll come out of it." That would be 2011, and as late as July 5, Napoli was still hitting .220. He hit .382 with 20 homers the rest of the way. If he has to bat eighth to regain that form, he'll do it. "I come in here and I just want to win, so whatever," he said. "I know I've been struggling a little bit. There's some guys in this lineup that are swinging the bat pretty well. But I just want to win, so it doesn't really matter to me. I'm going to get pitched the same whether I'm batting eighth or first. It is what it is. "I'm not going to change my plan or how I'm feeling that day. I'm going to start hitting. I've got confidence in that. I'm going to do anything I can to get going."