Mike Napoli

Red Sox pregame notes: Mike Napoli's off field work on hitting at some point 'has got to be put back on the field'

Ryan Hannable
July 07, 2015 - 1:32 pm
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The Red Sox are remaining patient with first baseman Mike Napoli, but at some point that patience will need to result in him performing on the field. Napoli is currently batting .168 since June 1 with just two home runs and eight RBIs, while striking out 35 times in 113 plate appearances. After a 1-for-17 most recent stretch, he was given the day off Sunday with David Ortiz playing first base and will be off again Tuesday as recalled first/third baseman Travis Shaw gets the nod at first, giving Napoli a chance to work on regaining his confidence. "[He will] continue to work through the challenges he's finding himself in right now," manager John Farrell said. "The work ethic is there. He's trying to gain some comfort at the plate and that is going to come through work and repetition and working with (hitting coach) Chili [Davis], which he's done early -- been here on off days -- and will continue to work through it to right its self. At some point, that work has got to be put back on the field with an opportunity to play its self out. For the time being, we're giving him the chance to work through some things." In the meantime, the Red Sox are working on different lineups without Napoli. On Sunday, Ortiz played first and Hanley Ramirez served as the designated hitter in the team's 5-4, comeback win over the Astros. Tuesday, Shaw will get his chance to show what he can do. While Sunday it seemed like Ortiz playing first base was just a one time thing, it could happen again, especially with Thursday being an off day and the All-Star break coming after the weekend series with the Yankees. "Yeah, there's a lot of thought," Farrell said of Ortiz playing first base again. "The way the schedule works out it gives David a day of recovery if we do choose to do that. I do know this: that was a deep lineup. I think it was reflective in the number of quality at-bats up and down the lineup, it gives us a chance to have [Alejandro] De Aza in the outfield. So all those things are being discussed and certainly available to us. We'll approach that tomorrow if that exists." If Napoli's struggles continue and the team can find a suitable lineup in his absence, it wouldn't be out of the question to see him either traded or DFA'd as the trade deadline nears. OTHER RED SOX NOTES -- Second baseman Dustin Pedroia (hamstring) is eligible to come off the disabled list Friday against the Yankees before the All-Star break. There is no determination on whether or not he will be able to return then as of now, although Farrell said Friday isn't all or nothing -- he could return Saturday or Sunday. The second baseman began taking groundballs on Tuesday. "I will say this, that Pedey is looking at this knowing what's coming up after the weekend. And he's being realistic about it as well," Farrell said. "So the best way to describe it is he'll be out there when he's ready. The first day that he's fully ready. If you think back to the way he injured it, slamming on the brakes coming around first base, just getting the groundball work started now is mimicking some of that movement that injured it. So that's the area that we are still cautious with. So just to turn him loose and say he's ready to go is premature at that." -- Despite going against a right-hander in Dan Haren, Shane Victorino and not De Aza start in right field. Farrell said since the team is going against eight straight right-hander's, Victorino needs to get on the field. He also noted De Aza could be a defensive replacement for Ramirez and will likely be in the lineup Wednesday. "With Alejandro, what we have used him with a defensive replacement late, I can envision if we're on the right side of the scoreboard, his flexibility, his additional left-handed bat on the bench available to us is there," Farrell said. "I would think and have a really good feel that Alejandro will be on the field tomorrow. So as Vic has come back to us with the off-days and trying to get him in the flow as much as possible, that's where he's at. We're going to go through a run of eight straight right-handed starters against us. So for Vic to go on rehab and then come back and not play at all, that's probably a little extreme itself." -- Farrell proclaimed starter Rick Porcello is healthy despite his recent struggles. Porcello, who will start Wednesday, hasn't won a game since May 16 and has the worst ERA in all of baseball among qualified major league starters at 6.08. "The work in-between starts, that's consistent," Farrell said. "It's the execution in the moment. And that's inevitably where- bullpen is one thing, but carrying the bullpen into games and executing pitch to pitch, pitch selection, minimizing the damage, that's where the rubber meets the road and that's where we're looking to gain that consistency."

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