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Mike Napoli’s bent finger turns out to be just dislocated, not broken 04.16.14 at 12:44 am ET
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The Red Sox seemingly escaped another potential huge setback when it was determined Mike Napoli‘€™s left ring finger was dislocated and not broken.

Napoli hurt the finger sliding head first into second base while advancing on a wild pitch in the ninth inning of what would be a 2-1 Red Sox loss to the White Sox in Chicago.

“It’€™s not broke,” he told reporters. “I can play with some soreness. We’€™ll see how it feels tomorrow.

He added, “I saw my finger sideways. The first thing I thought was, I don’€™t really know what to think. But I’ve seen people with dislocated fingers before. They pop it back in, be sore.”

At the time, it appeared as though Napoli had made an important baserunning decision, getting into scoring position with the game tied at 1-1. He would immediately be pinch run for by Dustin Pedroia, who was stranded after a Mike Carp ground out.

“Good dirt ball read like that, I mean, God dang,” Napoli said. “I was digging myself. I look at my finger, frigging sideways. But it’€™s good news it’€™s not broken.”

Napoli also told reporters, “I know I hit the bag pretty hard and I looked down and it was right there in front of my face. [Umpire] Jim Joyce was going, ‘€˜Oh my God!’€™ and calling for the trainer. It’€™ll be all right.”

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Mike Napoli on M&M: Barack Obama ‘has a lot more things to worry about than my last name’ 04.08.14 at 1:46 pm ET
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Mike Napoli's 3-run homer in the third put the Red Sox back in the game Saturday against Milwaukee. (AP)

Mike Napoli is off to a strong start offensively this season. (AP)

Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli checked in with Mut & Merloni on Tuesday as the Red Sox prepare to play the Rangers in the second game of a three-game series at Fenway Park. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

The Red Sox had a rough weekend series against the Brewers, dropping three straight to match their longest losing streak of 2013. There has been some talk that Friday’s lengthy ring ceremony — coming three days after a visit to the White House to celebrate the 2013 World Series championship — might have taken some of the team’s focus and energy away from the games.

“Me personally, I wasn’t tired or anything. I don’t think we played really good baseball,” Napoli said. “It’s been a long week, but hopefully we get our feet under us and start playing some good baseball.”

With the ceremonies done, the Sox are ready to have their attention solely on the 2014 campaign.

“We talked about it once, we talked about, ‘Let last year be last year,’ and focused on this year. I think we’ve done a good job with it,” he said. “We had Opening Day here, we got our rings, and that was kind of the final straw of it. We’re focused on this year and we’re ready to go.”

Napoli has had some early success at the plate (.321/.406/.571), including a couple of opposite-field hits with two strikes.

“I’m just trying to put the ball in play, especially with two strikes,” he said. “Trying to shorten up, shorten up my leg kick a little bit and just really see the ball to contact. I’m going to strike out, I’ve done it my whole career. I’m trying to minimize it a little bit but also have an aggressive swing to try to put the ball in play somewhere.”

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Ice-cold Clay Buchholz (six, runs, 13 hits) struggles badly as Red Sox fall in 11 at frigid Fenway 04.05.14 at 11:33 pm ET
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Mike Napoli's 3-run homer in the third put the Red Sox back in the game Saturday against Milwaukee. (AP)

Mike Napoli‘s 3-run homer in the third put the Red Sox back in the game Saturday against Milwaukee. (AP)

Clay Buchholz was as ice-cold as the elements Saturday night.

Back-to-back doubles from Khris Davis and Logan Schafer in the 11th inning off former Brewer Burke Badenhop broke a 6-6 tie and led Milwaukee to its second straight interleague win over the Red Sox, 7-6, Saturday night in a four-hour, 23-minute marathon at a frigid Fenway Park. Francisco Rodriguez struck out the side in order in the 11th to send Boston to its second straight loss at home and drop them to 2-3 on the very young season.

The game began just after 7 p.m., with a temperature reading of 48 degrees and a wind chill in the upper 30s. By the 10th inning, Fenway was less than half-full and the temperature had dipped into the upper 30s.

Buchholz, the Red Sox starter, allowed a career-high 13 hits and lasted just 4 1/3 innings. The Brewers used two long home runs from Mark Reynolds and Carlos Gomez off Buchholz and clutch hitting to race out to a 6-2 lead heading into the bottom of the third.

“I missed with a lot pitches and when I did they seemed to put the barrel on it and find some holes,” Buchholz said. “Obviously, the couple of home runs they hit were pitches not where they were supposed to be. Just a lot of mistakes that they found holes for.

“I felt fine. It took a little bit to get loose. It was pretty cold out there. But other than that, it was just basically missing in the middle of the plate or missing up [in strike zone] and that’s where their hits came off of. I don’t think I threw one good pitch that was hit, that I look back on and I don’t think he should’ve hit that pitch. That’s the way it goes.”

Buchholz is slated to pitch next Thursday in the Bronx in the opener of a four-game series against the Yankees.

“I’ve been around for a little bit so you can’t dwell on your last start,” Buchholz added. “To do that, it’s probably not going to work out too well for you. Just put in the work that I have to do to get ready for that start against the Yankees.”

Buchholz was bailed out by his offense and did not figure in the decision. Buchholz, who managed only 72 pitches on the night, didn’t allow more than eight hits in any start in 2013 and had never allowed more than seven hits in any game at Fenway.

“You don’t want to give up that many hits ever,” Buchholz said. “But they were swinging early and that’s what I want teams to do, I want them to swing, I want them to put balls in play. I have to do a better job of limiting that and obviously putting pitches where I want to. I wasn’t able to do that at all tonight, really. That’s the way the game goes some times. I have to figure it out before the next time out.”

The Red Sox, playing without David Ortiz (rest), Will Middlebrooks (right calf) and Mike Carp (back) in the starting lineup, managed to battle back as the Brewers started to self-destruct, namely third baseman Aramis Ramirez and shortstop Jean Segura.

With one out, Dustin Pedroia reached on a fielding error by Ramirez. The next batter, Daniel Nava, hit a routine grounder to Segura at short that appeared to be tailor-made for an inning-ending double play. But instead of a 6-4-3 DP, Segura bobbled it and retired only Nava at first.

Mike Napoli followed with a rocket to the center field bleachers off Brewers starter Wily Peralta that cut Milwaukee’s lead to one, 6-5.

The Red Sox used more Milwaukee mayhem in the field to tie the game in the sixth. The Brewers appeared ready to escape a first-and-second, none-out jam when A.J. Pierzynski grounded into a 4-6-3 double play. Jonathan Herrera grounded softly to Segura at short. Segura bobbled and couldn’t recover as Xander Bogaerts scored from third.

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Red Sox-Brewers series preview 04.04.14 at 11:20 am ET
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It’€™ll be a special day at Fenway on Friday afternoon as the reigning World Series champions return home for the first time since beating the Cardinals in Game 6 of the 2013 Fall Classic.

The rings will be distributed, the banner will be displayed and the Red Sox will kick off the first home series of the season, taking on the Brewers.

The ceremonies are set to begin at 1 p.m. and include a helicopter flyover from the U.S. Coast Guard, a performance by the Dropkick Murphys and Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, and of course, the ring ceremony, as well as a tribute to the fallen firefighters who died in the nine-alarm blaze in the Back Bay on March 26.

“I’m pretty sure it’s going to be emotional,” first baseman Mike Napoli told MLB.com. “Boston knows how to put on a good ceremony. I’ve seen it before. I imagine the atmosphere is going to be amazing and the fans are going to be going nuts. It’s going to be a fun day. I’m looking forward to it.”

First pitch is set for 2:05 p.m., with the Brewers coming to Fenway for the first time since 2011.

The Red Sox opened the season on a positive note, taking the final two games of the series against the Orioles after dropping the opener. The Brewers, on the other hand, dropped two of three to the Braves despite solid performances from their starting pitchers. This is the earliest in the season the Brewers have ever faced an American League opponent in interleague play. The Red Sox have won seven of the nine interleague contests between the two clubs.

Here are the pitching matchups for the first home series of 2014.

Friday: Jake Peavy (0-0, 0.00) vs. Marco Estrada (0-0, 0.00)

Saturday: Clay Buchholz (0-0, 0.00) vs. Wily Peralta (0-0,0.00)

Sunday: Jon Lester (0-1, 2.57) vs. Yovani Gallardo (1-0, 0.00)

WHO’€™S HOT: RED SOX

Xander Bogaerts isn’€™t having much trouble adjusting to his role as the team’s everyday shortstop. The 21-year-old has reached base in eight of his 11 plate appearances, going 5-for-9 with a double and drawing three walks in the opening series. Batting out of the 5-hole in the rubber match with the Orioles on Thursday, Bogaerts went 3-for-4 and scored twice. While he’€™s batted either fifth or seventh in the lineup so far, he’€™s making a case for a shot at an audition in the leadoff spot, since there seems to be some uncertainty at the top of the order.

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Closing Time: Mike Napoli, David Ortiz make sure Orioles know who they are in Red Sox win 04.02.14 at 9:50 pm ET
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Mike Napoli and David Ortiz led the Red Sox' offensive charge Wednesday night. (AP)

Mike Napoli and David Ortiz led the Red Sox‘ offensive charge Wednesday night. (AP)

BALTIMORE — Mike Napoli made a name for himself Wednesday night.

A day after President Barack Obama mispronounced Napoli‘s last name, the Red Sox first baseman gave the world a second chance to familiarize itself with the moniker. Napoli starred in the Sox’ 6-2 win over the Orioles, knocking in four runs via a two-run homer and single that scored a pair.

(For Napoli’s comments on the presidential mispronunciation, click here.)

The Red Sox starting pitcher did his job for a second straight game, this time with John Lackey doing the honors. The righty held the Orioles to just three hits over six innings, throwing 90 pitches. The righty struck out six and walked one.

Here is what went right (and wrong) for the Red Sox in their first win of the season.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

David Ortiz launched a two-run homer in the third inning against Baltimore starter Ubaldo Jimenez, landing on Eutaw Street past the right field fence. The home run marked the first time he has rounded the bases since hitting his only spring training home run on March 10. He has now hit four homers April 2 or earlier in his career.

– Napoli broke a 2-2 tie by launching the Red Sox’ second two-run shot of the day, this one clearing the center field fence with two outs in the fifth inning and Daniel Nava standing on first. The homer came with two strikes, a count on which he hit eight homers in 2013 while carrying just a .622 OPS.

Xander Bogaerts continued his solid start, getting on base three times via a pair of walks and a single. In his first seven at-bats, the rookie had reached five times.

Dustin Pedroia continued to swing a hot bat, carrying over from the final week of spring training. On Wednesday night the second baseman notched four hits, scoring on both Ortiz’s homer and Napoli’s seventh-inning single. Pedroia also made the defensive play of the night, diving for a J.J. Hardy grounder up the middle and springing up in time to throw out the baserunner.

– The Red Sox once again didn’t let the Orioles starter get past six innings, this time driving Jimenez from the game after six, after 96 pitches. Monday, Baltimore starter Chris Tillman lasted just five innings.

– The Red Sox relievers — Edward Mujica, Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara — all did their part, combining for three shutout innings following Lackey. Uehara — who allowed two baserunners (error, infield single) — picked up his first save.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Nelson Cruz did some damage for a second straight game, this time hitting his home run the opposite way, over the right field fence, to tie the game at 2 after four innings. Cruz was the difference-maker in Monday’s season opener, breaking a 1-1 tie with a seventh inning solo blast off Jon Lester.

– After a standout performance in the opener, Grady Sizemore came back down to earth a bit. The center fielder went 0-for-4, stranding a pair. Also going hitless for the Red Sox were Will Middlebrooks and Jonny Gomes.

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Mike Napoli wants to clarify that we have not been saying his name incorrectly at 4:14 pm ET
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Mike Napoli (AP)

Mike Napoli didn’t mind the president’s mispronunciation of his name. (AP)

BALTIMORE — Mike Napoli was not offended, but he did want to clear things up.

“To clarify, it’€™s pronounced ‘NAApoli,’ not ‘NapOHli.’€™ But I chuckled about it,” he said.

What the first baseman was referencing was President Barack Obama‘€™s mispronunciation of his last name while delivering Tuesday’€™s speech at the White House.

(To hear the audio of the speech, click here. The Napoli reference is at 5:35.)

“I was like, ‘Oh, damn!’ in my head,” Napoli said of the moment. “Then I heard some of the boys chuckle a little bit and have some body movement.”

While the president’€™s recognition made the headlines — resulting in a flood of text messages to the infielder — Napoli said there was so much more to take away the day.

“It was cool,” Napoli said. “When you’€™re with the President of the United States, standing behind him, and he’s talking to people about our season and what happened last year. It was cool. It was cool to be inside the White House and see all the security and everything you have to do to get in.

“I think I liked going to Walter Reed [Army Medical Center] better. It interested me. All those people … got to see a couple of patients and we tried to brighten their day a little bit. It was a long day, but it was cool to go to Walter Reed. That was probably the best part of my day.”

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Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts Red Sox regulars rake in BP inside JetBlue Park 02.26.14 at 7:41 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Two days before they open spring training baseball against Northeastern and Boston College, Red Sox positional players took batting practice inside JetBlue Park Tuesday morning. The position players hit off short tosses from coaches as the pitching staff had the day off from live batting practice.

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