Red Sox Marathon Monday notes: Mike Napoli, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey have a sleepover, Napoli 'a little sore' but ready to go

Mike Petraglia
April 21, 2014 - 6:25 am
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Whenever you can hear an injury from the dugout, you immediately fear the worst. But John Farrell can breathe a little bit easier after Mike Napoli came downstairs from spending the night in the Red Sox clubhouse and reported he was good to go and bat cleanup for the Red Sox after taking a Darren O'Day pitch to the outside of his left kneecap Sunday night. "A little sore but ready to go," Farrell reported Monday morning. "He and a couple other guys spent the night here with the quick turnaround but we're at full strength, ready to go today. That's why it's there. They're taking advantage of it. "The way he went down, it didn't look promising. You could hear it from the dugout. It was clearly on the bone. But once he got some feeling back, while the soreness was there, he was good to continue. We were somewhat anxious to see how he was going to respond this morning. But walking around after the game last night, he was mobile. It remained loose so while there's some soreness, he's still ready to go." Joining Napoli in sleeping over at Fenway were Monday's starting pitcher Clay Buchholz and fellow starter John Lackey. Did Farrell need to spend the night at Fenway, too? "No, I didn't. I have my own sleeping room," Farrell quipped. Farrell acknowledged Monday morning that the schedule "is what it is" and even showed some humor when one reporter asked if he could judge the mood of the clubhouse after such a short night. "How do you feel this morning?" Farrell replied. "We're on short rest but the game goes on and we'll be there, I can't say with bells on, but we'll be raring to go." Brock Holt was penciled into the starting lineup as the leadoff hitter Monday, marking the fifth leadoff hitter the Red Sox have used this season. "He's had very good at-bats, both [against] lefties and righties," Farrell said. "We've had a number of different guys in that leadoff spot. I recognize that. I think the priority becomes keeping some continuity, 2 through 6, which we've been able to do with this alignment. That's where we are today." Holt joins Grady Sizemore (seven games), Jonny Gomes (4), Dustin Pedroia (3) and Daniel Nava (2) as Red Sox hitters at the top of the order in 2014. "Throughout his minor league career, he's been a top-of-the-order type of hitter so there's no hesitancy in putting him in that spot," Farrell said. "In the short time he's been here, he's seen some pitches, he's put up some long at-bats. He's done a very good job. While we're still searching for that one true guy in that spot, this is the next candidate. "It seems more just in the attitude in which he's in the box. There's a relentlessness to the at-bats we've seen. A number of foul balls, borderline pitches he's taken. He's not expanded the strike zone so far and I think it's more the mentality of the approach that is what stands out. I can't say it's anything fundamental that's been a major shift but it's just the approach mentally that seems to be the difference." Farrell has also been pleased with the way his team has been grinding out games of late, coming back from deficits and getting into opposing bullpens. Last Wednesday in Chicago, they managed to drive Chris Sale's pitch count well above 120 before chasing him out and winning the game in extra innings. Sunday night, they fell behind 5-0 before coming back to win in the bottom of the ninth. "We've gone up against some very good pitching," Farrell said. "We've run up some pitch counts. We've got into the bullpen, against [Chris] Tillman the other night, Sale in Chicago and it's that same consistent approach throughout the lineup that we've been able to use to our advantage. I can't say it's exactly like it was last October, when seemingly we're getting no-hit every night through five innings but we found a way to get into a bullpen in that seventh, eighth inning range. We're just putting up more consistent at-bats, tougher at-bats to drive that pitch count up." One pitcher Farrell continues to keep a close eye on is closer Koji Uehara. He last pitched on Saturday in the win over the Orioles. "While he's feeling good physically, I'm personally managing him for the entire year, not just inside a given series," Farrell said. "I think we have to take an even-handed approach to him getting some appearances under his belt. The brief interruption in New York is further behind him."

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