Napoli dropped to seventh; is bench next?

Napoli dropped to seventh; is bench next?
August 14, 2013, 7:45 pm
Share This Post

TORONTO -- Last week, Mike Napoli was dropped from fifth to sixth in the Red Sox batting order.

On Wednesday, he was dropped further, from sixth to seventh. And, manager John Farrell broadly hinted, if Napoli doesn't start to produce,
he'll soon be losing playing time at first base to Mike Carp and/or Daniel Nava.

On the the current trip, Napoli is just 3-for-29. He fanned three times in five plate appearances Tuesday as the Red Sox edged the Blue Jays 4-2 in 11 innings.

"We're looking for that right combination in the middle third of the order,'' said Farrell. "Stephen [Drew] has been swinging the bat with a lot of confidence of late and we feel like Jonny Gomes has put up a lot of tough at-bats of late and we feel like that's the combination
for now.

"We'd also look to possibly rotate some [other] guys through that first base position. I'm not going to say we're going to go to a strict
platoon situation....I think we'll see both [Carp and Nava] get some action there, depending on who we're facing on the mound that night.''

Napoli took the news in stride.

"It's about winning,'' said Napoli. "I've been struggling a little bit and I'm up for whatever's going to help us win. If it's dropping me
down a little bit so I get out of this little funk I've been going through, I'm all for it. I'm not looking at it in any bad way.

"We had a good conversation. I'm going to go out there and try to turn it around.''

Napoli maintained that he wouldn't change what he's doing at the plate despite the change.

"I go up there with the same approach,'' he said. "I have a plan every time I go up there and try to execute it every time. I just haven't really been getting it done. I'm still going to get up there tonight, and even though I'm hitting seventh, whatever the situation calls for, I'm going to try to do.''

Napoli has been a streaky hitter over the course of his career, prone to peaks and valleys, but he acknowledged the current slump "is probably one of the more difficult ones I've been through -- just how long it's been. I had a couple games here or there where I felt good, but the way I've been feeling, it really hasn't clicked over.''

Only last Friday, when he reached base four times and drilled a bases-clearing, three-run double, Napoli thought he had turned the corner. Instead, in the game that followed, he's continued to bottom out.

"I feel like I make some strides, where I was getting there,'' he said, "and it goes right back to where I've been at. I'm just trying to get where I can be a little more consistent, at-bat to at-bat.

"But this game's weird -- you think you've got it figured out and think you're going in the right direction and it kind of snowballs on you. But I'm staying positive," he said. "I feel like I'm going to get out of this thing. I just have to take one at-bat at a time.''