Napoli starting to find his swing

Napoli starting to find his swing
April 15, 2013, 6:15 pm
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BOSTON – While Mike Napoli’s swing has been progressing, it’s been slow to come around this season.  He’s still waiting to post the numbers the Red Sox were hoping to see, especially at Fenway Park, where his career numbers were the reasons the Sox coveted him.
 
On Monday, with the Sox and Rays tied in the ninth inning of the finale of the first homestand, Napoli went to the plate hit-less in the game. He had struck out in his first two at-bats and popped out in the third.
 
Napoli, who entered the game leading the Sox in RBI, had Dustin Pedroia on first base after a one-out walk.  After being up 2-and-0 to Rays reliever Joel Peralta, Napoli looked at strike one and fouled off the next pitch to even the count.
 
The ball he fouled caromed of catcher Jose Molina’s mask.  Molina paused to regroup and to get a new mask, while Peralta played catch near the mound.
 
After the brief delay, Napoli needed just one more pitch from Peralta, an 80-mph splitter. Napoli, a little off balance and out in front, banged Peralta’s offering off the wall in left-center as Pedroia sprinted home the game-winning run.
 
It was Napoli’s first walk-off hit for the Sox, the third of his career and first since July 23, 2009, while with the Angels against the Twins. He extended his team lead with his 11th RBI, all in the last nine games.
 
“It was pretty awesome. The fans were going crazy,” he said. “It’s always nice to do something to help the team win.”
 
The ball hit high off the wall, looking like it had the potential to get out.
 
“I was out in front, but I knew I hit it pretty good,” Napoli said. “So I was just running. I saw where Pedey was. I saw there was a chance he could score so it was an exciting moment.”
 
Jarrod Saltalamacchia was in the on-deck circle for Napoli’s blast.
 
"It was awesome,” Saltalamacchia said.  “[He’s] a strong man to be able to hit a ball one hand out in front like that and just hit it off the top of the wall. But it’s huge, a guy with that much power, it’s a threat and it’s nice to have that in our lineup."
 
And Napoli feels like his swing is coming around. In his last four games he has gone 5-for-16 (.313) with two doubles and three RBI, raising his average to .220.
 
“I feel good,” he said. “Sometimes I don’t feel so good but it’s a process. Just got to go up there and  not waste AB’s and just give a tough at-bat every time. I’m working hard in the cage and my BP's just trying to take it into the game.”

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