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Mike Napoli ready to deal with ‘stabbing’ in his foot

10.02.13 at 8:10 am ET
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Mike Napoli separated himself from the other Red Sox players taking fielding drills Tuesday. He was wearing sneakers.

The Sox first baseman has been relegated to donning the footwear during practice sessions instead of spikes due to a lingering case of plantar fasciitis. Because of the ailment, Napoli not only has had to adjust what he wears on his feet (including special inserts), but also is forced to manage time spent standing around.

‘€œButter [Red Sox infield coach Brian Butterfield] doesn’€™t let me take ground balls,’€ he said. ‘€œI’€™ll only take about four ground balls.’€

The approach is nothing new for Napoli, who has been dealing with the injury for most of the season’€™s second half. He received a cortisone shot just prior to the Red Sox’€™ August trip to San Francisco, but hasn’€™t duplicated the process since.

‘€œTalk about hurting,’€ he said, ‘€œthat’€™s a needle in the bottom of your foot.’€

At this point, Napoli is resigned to the notion that it is a problem that won’€™t be magically going away any time soon.

‘€œI try and tell everyone it feels like I’€™m stepping on an ice pick,’€ explained Napoli, who said he doesn’t expect to need surgery at season’s end. ‘€œWhen I run, it’€™s stabbing in my foot and it hurts ‘€¦ bad.

‘€œI have my good days and bad days. When I’€™m running the bases a lot, the next day I’€™m going to be sore.’€

The best elixir for the injury to date has simply been rest, which Napoli has gotten his fair share of over the final stretch of the regular season. He didn’€™t play for almost a week, ultimately returning to the lineup for the final three games in Baltimore (going 4-for-11 with four walks).

The combination of time off his feet and medical treatment has produced positive results. Dating back to the Sox’€™ first game in Los Angeles against the Dodgers (Aug. 24), Napoli is hitting .333 with eight home runs and a 1.186 OPS (best in the majors over that span).

Now he’€™s counting on continuing his success as a postseason player at Fenway Park, where Napoli has hit .308 with a 1.284 OPS in five playoff games as a visiting player against the Red Sox.

‘€œAnywhere is always good (in the playoffs), but with this stadium everyone is on you,’€ Napoli said. ‘€œIt’€™s like the old Yankee Stadium compared to the new Yankee Stadium. I remember going to the old Yankee Stadium and it was intimidating. That’€™s how it is here. But I like that. I like people wanting me to do bad. I want people yelling at me. I kind of chuckle at it. It fires me up to do good.’€

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