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Red Sox pregame notes: Mike Napoli’s renewed impact; Clay Buchholz makes progress

07.24.13 at 5:50 pm ET
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It appears Mike Napoli has found the swing that terrorized pitchers in the month of April, and that is very good news for the Red Sox.

Mike Napoli has swung a hot bat of late, a good sign for the Sox (AP)

Mike Napoli has swung a hot bat of late, a good sign for the Red Sox. (AP)

Since July 12, Napoli is hitting .375 with a .423 on-base percentage and .792 slugging mark with two home runs, two doubles, a triple and four runs batted in. Although these numbers cover a limited sample size, they are considerable jumps from his tough month of June, when he hit .263 with just two extra-base hits.

Prior to Wednesday’s game, manager John Farrell spoke about Napoli’s recent success.

“As basic as you can say it, he’s just getting his front foot down earlier, than in a stretch of time where he was a little bit late, causing his swing to be a little bit more long,” Farrell said. “Just in his own explanation of talking to him about it, he just feels like he’s getting ready on time sooner.”

Entering Wednesday’s action, Red Sox right-handed hitters have a total of 158 extra-base hits on the season. That ranks fourth in the American League East, behind the Blue Jays (177), Orioles (173) and Rays (164). With the loss of Will Middlebrooks, offensive production from the right side of the plate — particularly power — has seemingly been in short supply. As such, the potential impact of Napoli is considerable.

“Think back to what he was doing in April,” noted Farrell, referring to a month when Napoli carried the Sox with 18 extra base hits and 27 RBIs.

Added Farrell: “He lengthens the lineup, giving further protection behind David [Ortiz], extra base threat at any time he steps into the box, those are all things he’s capable of and certainly things we’ll need.”

Clay Buchholz threw at 90 feet Wednesday, with what was described as “increasing intensity” by Farrell. Since visiting Dr. James Andrews, Buchholz has been placed on a throwing progression, leading up to his return to the mound.

“[Buchholz] felt good after the session coming out of it,” Farrell said. “And by his own words, more intensity today than he’s been able to get to in recent sessions. Moving in the right direction.”

However, Farrell was unable to offer any timetable for Buchholz’s return. The pitcher himself said that Andrews mentioned the possibility of making four to five minor league starts — suggesting a September return — though Farrell suggested that it would be impossible to say whether that assessment was overly conservative or accurate.

“Clay will be on the mound when he’s ready. It’s premature to forecast any time range,” Farrell said.

– Red Sox closer Andrew Bailey underwent surgery Wednesday morning on his throwing shoulder. Farrell did not have any information on the result of the surgery and said he last made contact with Bailey through a text this morning when the pitcher was on the way to the operating room, having already been anesthetized. Farrell chuckled that Bailey’s response to his last message “wasn’t quite legible.”

Read More: andew bailey, Clay Buchholz, mike napoli,
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