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Red Sox pregame notes: Struggling Mike Napoli gets a day off; Stephen Drew making progress

07.03.13 at 6:59 pm ET
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Mike Napoli has exactly one extra-base hit in the last month, and chances are he won’€™t be adding to that total Wednesday night against the Padres.

John Farrell is giving the struggling first baseman a one-night reprieve of his duties in favor of Mike Carp, who will bat sixth and play first base. Napoli consistently produced in the middle of the order of the Sox lineup for the first month and a half, hitting .261 with a .840 OPS mark to go with his seven homers and 34 RBIs.

Since then, however, his numbers have fallen off dramatically. Napoli is slashing .253/.348/.304 with two extra-base hits (one double, one homer) and 14 RBI in 22 games since the start of June. Although he is striking out less, the 31-year-old has not been the right-handed middle-of-the-order bat the Red Sox expected him to be.

His struggles have become sufficiently acute that Farrell acknowledged giving consideration to a move down in the lineup.

“Without talking to Mike yet about that, there’€™s been some thought there,” said Farrell. “There’€™s definitely been some thought.”

Diagnosing the source of Napoli’s struggles has been challenging.

‘€œWe can’€™t pinpoint anything physically,’€ Farrell said of Napoli’€™s struggles, hinting at the diagnosis he received of avascular necrosis in both hips during the offseason. ‘€œGiven what he’€™s come from in the offseason, people might naturally think there’€™s something going on there, which there isn’€™t. ‘€¦ We’€™re trying to get back to the production that he showed. It doesn’€™t have to be the point of an April, but somewhere in between.’€

Farrell said the coaches are working to shorten Napoli’€™s swing, as well as stop him from committing so early. Committing early isn’€™t necessarily bad on fastballs, but he gets burned when it turns out to be an offspeed offering.

Entering the season, hitting in the middle of the order was a relative unknown for Napoli ‘€” he had only hit fourth or fifth in 76 of his 727 career major league games ‘€” but he was excited for the chance to be the team’€™s go-to guy.

‘€œI’€™m not going to change anything I do,’€ Napoli told WEEI.com’€™s Rob Bradford in March. ‘€œI’€™m going to go up there and see a lot of pitches. I know when to be aggressive. I’€™ve always wanted to be THE guy in a lineup. I’€™m looking forward to it.

‘€œIf you’€™re a player who doesn’€™t want that, you probably shouldn’€™t be playing. I’€™m always up for it. I thrive on wanting to do well and helping my team win in whatever way I can.’€

At the time, Napoli, Will Middlebrooks and Jacoby Ellsbury were seen as players who could serve as power threats. But with Middlebrooks demoted to the minors, Ellsbury not hitting for power and Napoli struggling, the Red Sox lack a big-time power bat outside of David Ortiz.

That said, Farrell isn’€™t too worried about it.

‘€œIt’€™s more of a lineup that has different ways of scoring runs,’€ Farrell said. ‘€œI don’€™t want to make too much of it, because win-loss record is reflective of scoring more runs than the opponent. However you get there, you get there.’€

(For more on the Red Sox’ relative absence of power this year, and its implications for the offense, click here.)

Other Red Sox notes:

– Out since Saturday with a tight hamstring, Stephen Drew ran and changed direction, then took ground balls during batting practice. He isn’€™t quite ready to return to the lineup, but it’€™s a step in the right direction, Farrell said.

– Concussed catcher David Ross, who is staying at his home in Florida while he recovers, has had three or four ‘€œreally good days’€ in a row, according to Farrell, who spoke to Ross earlier Wednesday.

‘€œThe sensations that he feels as a result of the concussion are starting to diminish,’€ Farrell said.

Ross, who is on the 60-day DL, has started to work out again, mostly just cardio and weight lifting, and will see concussion specialist Dr. Michael Collins in Pittsburgh again Tuesday.

There is no timetable for Ross’€™ return.

– Right-hander Clayton Mortensen cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Pawtucket.

– The Red Sox officially have signed seventh-rounder Mike Adams, a left-hander out of the University of Tampa.

Read More: David Ross, John Farrell, mike napoli, Stephen Drew
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