|Observations from Red Sox rout of Twins: Mike Napoli clubs broken bat HR, offense explodes, Justin Masterson commands||03.30.15 at 10:31 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — As spring training games go, Monday night’s 14-2 pummeling of the crosstown Twins was about as good as it gets for the Red Sox.
Exactly one week before the season opener in Philadelphia, John Farrell rolled out a lineup that fans can expect to see against the Phillies (and hopefully most of the season). And that lineup produced just as Red Sox management hoped when they put together the new offense over the winter.
Leadoff hitter Mookie Betts continued his scorching spring with two more hits, including an RBI double high off the Monster in a six-run fourth. He scored twice and is now batting .467 on the spring.
Mike Napoli looks as comfortable as anyone in the lineup not named Betts. He has also carried a blazing bat in spring, even when he’s breaking it in half and homering as was the case in the fourth. He muscled up and clubbed a solo homer that carried over the Monster in straightaway left. The barrel of the bat wound up in the dirt next to the third base bag and he ran around it as he circled the bases on his fourth homer of the spring.
“It’s never happened before,” Napoli said of the broken bat round-tripper. “I think I broke it on my at-bat before when I hit the ball to right. I wasn’t sure but I thought I hit it on the barrel. It was just a weird feeling. The bat exploded and I was just kind of sitting there. It’s a weird feeling anytime you do that. I don’t know. I can’t really explain it.
“I was just kind of running around the bases like, ‘What just happened?'”
Napoli, with two hits Monday, is now batting .433 with an .867 slugging percentage in 13 games.
“I feel good. My hands are getting stronger,” Napoli said. “My timing is getting good. Just working hard every day in the cage and my BPs and just trying to take it into the games.”
The solo shot must’ve inspired the rest of the order as Shane Victorino followed with a double. It was the second of seven straight hits by Red Sox regulars off a Twins staff comprised mostly of relievers for the game. In all, the Red Sox had consecutive RBI hits from Xander Bogaerts, Humberto Quintero, Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz in the six-run fourth.
“We hope to do that a lot,” Napoli said. “I think we’re capable of doing that a lot, just with the guys we have in our lineup. It’s deep, one through nine. We expect to do stuff like that. We’re going to try to feed off each other and go from there.”
“Good night offensively,” manager John Farrell added. “Obviously, with Nap, I thought Bogey had better at-bats tonight. The timing is starting to become a little bit more consistent. Nap’s been in a pretty good place all spring, particularly some balls to the pull side that might not have come the past couple of years until we get into April or a little bit deeper into the season.”
After his seventh strikeout of spring, Ortiz broke out of a mini-slump with an RBI single in the third that got the scoring underway. He followed that with a smooth swing that produced a sinking liner to left-center, scoring Dustin Pedroia. He finished 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs, bringing his average up to .259 this spring in 10 games.
Masterson allowed five hits and one run over his 5 2/3 innings and ended his night on a strong note when he got Torii Hunter to ground into a 6-4-3 double play. The starter who projects to start the season as a starter somewhere behind Clay Buchholz and Rick Porcello struck out four and walked one while generating seven ground ball outs. He could’ve had an eighth except for a rare Dustin Pedroia error in the third.
“Just able to continually get ground balls,” Masterson said. “Some nice fly balls that I got some good plays by guys in the field. But overall, got some ground balls when we needed to, if it didn’t always go at the guy. It was still on the ground. That’s perfect. That’s what I want to see.”
The play of the night was a running, twisting catch by Mookie Betts to end the fourth inning on a fly to straightaway center by Trevor Plouffe.
“Combination of feeling good and feeling strong and having, for the most part, hitting my spots,” Masterson said. “Just moving in that right direction, able to make a few adjustments, had a really long inning [by the offense] and coming back and getting the rhythm, getting the feel and staying within the mechanics and it worked out really good.”
“I think anytime he starts to extend his outings, six times up and down, getting close to 100 pitches,” Farrell said. “He’s been able to maintain his stuff deeper into that pitch-count range. He’s always going to be a guy that has a pretty wide range of velocity but because of the action and sink, and his breaking ball is starting to tighten up a little bit more with each outing. Tonight was a solid performance by him.”
|Mike Napoli scratched with sore right ankle||03.20.15 at 12:28 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — A full offseason of activity, along with a month of spring training, seemingly finally has caught up to Mike Napoli.
The Red Sox first baseman was scratched from his team’s lineup against the Orioles at JetBlue Park Friday with a sore right ankle.
“Nothing serious,” Napoli said. “I’ve been getting after it pretty much in camp and just got a little right ankle soreness. I was able to hit [Friday]. I’m going to be able to hit the next couple of days but I’m just going to let it be, rest up and then get back out.”
Napoli is 8-for-21 (.321) with two home runs in Grapefruit League action this spring training.
“Everything is good, but to keep on trying to play through it right now is probably not the smartest thing to do,” said the first baseman, who noted the ailment had nothing to do with his toe injury of a year ago. “I feel good. I’ll let it calm down and get back there.”
He added, “With my offseason and everything, I’ve been cramming a lot of stuff in. I’ve been working out a lot. I was able to run a lot in the offseason, running in cleats. I’ve played three days in a row twice already. But just let it be for a little bit. It’s not serious, but I just want to go out and play, not have to worry about it.”
|Mike Napoli pulling for ex-teammate Josh Hamilton||02.28.15 at 10:15 am ET|
Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli spent two years in Texas with Josh Hamilton when the outfielder was at the height of his powers. He knows what a tremendous talent Hamilton is on the field, which made the news about Hamilton’s looming suspension ‘ reportedly for a drug relapse involving cocaine and alcohol ‘ all the more sad.
“It’s unfortunate, man. It’s just tough,” Napoli said. “A lot of people deal with things in different ways. Obviously there’s something wrong where he keeps relapsing, but it’s sad. I feel for him and his family. I just wish him the best and hope that he gets better.”
Hamilton had been one of the feel-good stories of baseball, a former No. 1 overall pick who drank and drugged his way of the game before a renaissance in Texas from 2008-12. Since signing with the Angels before the 2013 season, however, Hamilton’s star has burned less bright, and his latest transgression is sure to earn him a lengthy suspension.
Napoli doesn’t remember Hamilton struggling to stay on the straight and narrow in Texas.
“It just seemed like he was living his normal life,” he said. “It was never talked about. We were just regular people. We weren’t talking about what he used to do or whatever. When I was there, he had (accountability partner) Johnny Narron, who took care of him and stuff on the road. There was never any sense that he was going to relapse and go down that path.”
Napoli recalls the Rangers altering their celebrations en route to the World Series in 2011 to accommodate Hamilton’s lifestyle.
“We celebrated with ginger ale, and then he’d leave and we’d all celebrate (with champagne),” Napoli said.
In the end, Napoli hopes his former teammate can find himself again and overcome his addictions.
“Some people just have that personality, where they just feel like they need it,” he said. “It’s hard. I feel for him. I hope he gets on the right path to get back to being a star baseball player, because when he’s right and healthy and on the right path, he’s another league above this as a talent. It’s sad.”
|Morning Fort: Mike Napoli feels like a new man, Daniel Nava promises not to press as much and Christian Vazquez takes over||02.23.15 at 10:38 am ET|
The slugger who had offseason surgery to address severe sleep apnea can feel an increase in energy and motivation when he heads to the ballpark.
“It’s been night and day,” Napoli said Monday morning. “Just my energy level when I wake up, I get out of bed and get my day started. Before I’d lay in bed until one o’clock. It’s totally different.”
Napoli looks trimmer than the beginning of last season, when he was still dealing with severe sleep deprivation that was sapping him of energy, making it difficult to deal with and overcome the nagging injuries of the last three seasons.
“You just have to be able to stay in the gym and get your workouts in and take care of your body,” he said. “It’s nutrition, working out and getting sleep. Now I can get sleep, which is probably going to help me out a lot. Just recovery, you get nicked up during a long season, you have to be able to recover and hopefully, I’ll be able to do that now.”
On Dec. 3, 2012, Napoli agreed to a three-year, $39 million deal with the Red Sox, pending a physical. Following a six-week period, the status of the deal was in question after his physical showed signs of a hip issue. He eventually agreed to play 2013 for $13 million.
He re-signed for two years and $32 million after helping the Red Sox to the World Series title. Last year, his numbers dipped. He batted just .248 with 17 homers and 55 RBIs in 119 games. But with his finger, knee, toe and back injuries resolved and his sleep apnea hopefully in the past, Napoli has a lot to look forward to with a rebuilt Red Sox order. He’ll have Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval and David Ortiz ahead of him in the lineup.
“It’s been great. We’re going to have a deep lineup,” Napoli said. “It’s going to be fun. Those guys have been around here for a couple of weeks now. We’ve all been getting along and having a good time. Just getting out there and working on our game.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Mike Napoli on Hot Stove show: I considered retirement after last season||02.20.15 at 1:14 pm ET|
Mike Napoli joined Rob Bradford and Mike Mutnansky on the Hot Stove show on Thursday to talk about his thoughts on the Red Sox entering spring training, as well as his career and the Patriots’ Super Bowl victory. To hear the interview, go to the WEEI audio on demand page.
Napoli has suffered from sleep apnea, and had surgery to correct it in the offseason.
“It’s all worked out,” Napoli said. “I’m really excited, working out hard, and I think it could be a really good year.”
The Red Sox first baseman admitted that his condition caused him to consider retirement after last season.
“At the end of the year, I wasn’t playing at all,” Napoli said. “I was banged up, but it was so frustrating that, in my mind, I was like, I don’t know if I can go through another year of just feeling like this.”
“[Last year] we had a lot of different guys and a lot of younger guys and there were a lot of challenges for us last year, and it just didn’t work out,” Napoli said. “But we brought in a lot of veteran good hitters and some veteran pitchers that, you know, as I’ve been here early, and a lot of guys are showing up early, it’s been a great vibe.”
Many players and fans attribute the team’s 2013 success to the camaraderie in the clubhouse. Napoli said that he has already noticed a better atmosphere than last season.
“It’s been great,” Napoli said, adding: “We had a lot of young guys, and I feel like they learned and saw some things and they’re a little more comfortable around in the clubhouse just being able to talk to with some of the veterans and stuff. It’s just been different.”
Added Napoli: “We don’t even have [Dustin] Pedroia here yet, and it’s been great. Once he gets here and he’s all over everybody, it’s going to be fun.”
|Red Sox health updates: Clay Buchholz to undergo right knee procedure; Allen Craig’s foot considered a non-issue||09.29.14 at 2:03 pm ET|
Red Sox GM Ben Cherington announced that right-hander Clay Buchholz was expected to undergo a minor right knee procedure to repair his meniscus by head team orthopedist Dr. Peter Asnis. Cherington said that Buchholz had been dealing with the issue on and off for some time, though the discomfort hadn’t always been present and it was not significant enough to prevent him from pitching. Cherington described the meniscus injury as “not a debilitating issue,” and was not at the root of the player’s struggles (8-11, 5.34 ER) in 2014.
“Given where we are in the calendar, it’s a fairly quick recovery. Let’s just knock it out and he should have a normal offseason,” said Cherington. “It’s something that we managed. I think he would tell you it did not affect him. We’re just trying to be proactive so it doesn’t turn into something bigger.”
— Brock Holt will see Dr. Michael Collins in Pittsburgh on Oct. 9 to get clearance that he’s recovered fully from his concussion. He won’t play in games (that visit will come too late to clear him for fall instructional league), but given that Holt took batting practice and grounders in the final homestand of the season, all parties appear comfortable that he will enter the offseason healthy. Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox lineup: Xander Bogaerts, Mike Napoli get day off in series finale||07.20.14 at 11:43 am ET|
Xander Bogaerts and Mike Napoli will get the day off from the starting lineup as the Red Sox look for the three-game sweep of the Royals against hard-throwing righthander Yordano Ventura. Shane VIctorino is playing in his second straight game with Boston, and fourth consecutive overall, dating back to the start of his brief rehab stint with Pawtucket on Thursday. He is scheduled to have the day off Monday when the Red Sox open a series in Toronto.
For a complete batter vs. pitcher breakdown, click here.
RED SOX LINEUP
Brock Holt 3B
Daniel Nava LF
David Ortiz DH
Mike Carp 1B
Stephen Drew SS
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Jon Lester SP
|Mike Napoli preserves Red Sox’ hot stretch with clutch round-tripper||07.19.14 at 11:47 pm ET|
One of the staples of last year’s championship season for the Red Sox has once again become a recurring theme over the first two contests of this brief three-game homestand against the Royals: Contributions from up and down the Boston roster.
Whether it be Xander Bogaerts’ and Jonny Gomes’ clutch home runs Friday night or Mike Napoli‘s sixth-inning go-ahead solo shot Saturday, the Sox are suddenly benefiting from different players stepping to the forefront of individual games en route to wins.
“That’s what we did last year,” Napoli said after Saturday’s 2-1 win over Kansas City. “That’s how you win ballgames. It can’t just be one guy doing it, so everyone is going to have to contribute and we all know that and we’re going to take it one day at a time.”
Comparisons aside, the Red Sox‘ recent stretch of clutch hitting has been a key factor in sustaining a run that has seen Boston win three in a row and six out of its last seven games.
With the game deadlocked in a 1-1 score Saturday, Napoli strode to the plate to face off against Royals southpaw starter Danny Duffy, who had only surrendered three hits over his first 5 1/3 innings of work.
After forcing the count to 3-1, Napoli turned on a high fastball from Duffy and clobbered it over the Monster and into Lansdowne Street for his 11th home run of the season, giving Boston a 2-1 lead that it would not yield in the following innings.
Entering Saturday’s game against the Royals, the Red Sox had only scored two runs over starter Rubby De La Rosa‘s last four starts, equaling out to an unsightly 0.73 run support average.
Boston was able to double that run total on Saturday night, and while two runs isn’t much, it was enough for De La Rosa, who spun seven brilliant innings of one-run, five-hit dominance en route to a 2-1 Red Sox victory.
Boston has now won two-straight series while also earning their first series victory against a team over .500 since the team took two out of three games from the Yankees on June 27-29. Boston’s last eight wins at home have all been decided by one run.
De La Rosa has now allowed three runs or less in five of his seven starts on the year while improving his ERA at home to 1.53 in four starts (4 earned runs/26 innings).
The game remained knotted at 1-1 until the sixth inning, when Mike Napoli took a 92 mph fastball from Royals starter Danny Duffy and deposited it over the Green Monster to give the Sox a one-run lead.
Shane Victorino, playing in his first game with Boston since May 23 after battling hamstring and back injuries for almost two months, was solid at the plate, going 1-for-3 while showing no limitations both in the field and on the basepaths.
With the win the Red Sox move to 45-52 on the year and have now won six of their last seven games.
|What did Red Sox do during All-Star break?||07.17.14 at 12:40 am ET|
With Jon Lester and Koji Uehara the lone All-Star representatives in Minnesota for the Red Sox (besides the coaching staff), many members of the team had a chance to relax before the grind of the second half of the season gets underway. Some decided to share their activities on social media.
First baseman Mike Napoli had dinner with some long-time friends in the North End.
‘ Jen Royle (@Jen_Royle) July 16, 2014
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