Mike Napoli gets tested immediately — and passes
|03.01.13 at 7:37 pm ET|
With Jon Lester on the mound, Pirates center fielder Darren Ford pushed a bunt past the pitcher’s mound to Napoli. He fielded it cleanly and sprinted to first base just ahead of the sliding Ford, whose decision to hit the dirt forced Napoli to hop over him.
The full test continued in the bottom of the first, as Napoli negotiated a full-count against Pirates starter Jeff Locke (a left-hander) before scorching an RBI single up the middle off of Locke’s foot and into left field. He then advanced from first to third on Stephen Drew‘s double and scored (standing) from third on a wild pitch.
In other words, aside from sliding, Napoli had a chance to check just about every box in just one inning of his first game test of 2013. It underscored the idea that, despite the amount of attention conferred upon his degenerative condition in both hips (avascular necrosis), to this point, he looks very much like an unencumbered baseball player.
“He’s passed all the tests that we’ve put him through. There’s been no restrictions. Even when he was taking (batting practice) in the offseason, it was apparent that his lower half was free and we’re looking forward to getting him into the flow of things,” manager John Farrell said before the game.
That effort continued beyond the first inning, as Napoli also flipped to Lester after fielding a grounder for an out, caught a foul pop-up by the Pirates dugout, handled a throw from Dustin Pedroia on a slow roller and finished off the second by catching a bounced Lester throw on a Jose Tabata just before the Pirates hitter crossed the bag. In his second at-bat in the third inning, he struck out on a changeup from Locke.
His night ended after four innings, in which he went 0-for-2 while handling every defensive opportunity that came his way. It would have been nearly impossible for the Sox to script such a thorough integration of the first baseman into the team.
“I felt like I got everything out of the way those first two innings. I had seen everything. It was fun. I had a good time out there,” said Napoli. “That’s the way I want it. I want to get as many balls as possible over there but I felt good over there and was just doing the things we worked on on the backfield and we’ll go from there. … Everything felt good, my legs felt good, and I was happy to be in there.”
To see video of Napoli’s RBI single up the middle, click here.
Latest from Bleacher Report
- MLB Reportedly 'Looking Into' Ortiz's Comments for Tampering
- Red Sox Pay Heavy, but Necessary Price to Go for It with Pomeranz
- Moncada Primed to Make Phenom-Loaded Red Sox Even Richer
- Craig Kimbrel Injury Updates on Recovery from Knee Surgery
- Latest on Brad Ziegler to Red Sox
- Brewers Trade INF Aaron Hill to Red Sox
- Bradley, Betts, and Bogaerts Give MLB a New-Age 'Killer B's'
- Cup of Coffee: Portland mashes, Johnson headlines strong night of pitching
- Cup of Coffee: Chatham comes up clutch, Downs lifts Lowell
- Scouting Scratch: Henry Owens
- Cup of Coffee: Chris Marrero, pitching help PawSox clip Red Wings
- Cup of Coffee: Sermo homers three times; Basabe keeps streaking
- Scouting Scratch: Luis Alexander Basabe and Michael Chavis
- Cup of Coffee: Procyshen homers, Benintendi triples in victories
- Podcast Ep. #103: Yes Devers loves me, the homers tell me so
- Weekly notes: Benintendi moves to left field
- Cup of Coffee: Dubon collects four hits, Kemp blasts two homers