If Mike Napoli does his job, he won’t have much need for running this season.
“Hit it far,” Napoli said jokingly yesterday, “and you can jog.”
Seeing as that even the game’s greatest sluggers occasionally keep the ball in the park, Napoli will indeed have to run this year, which made yesterday an encouraging first step that the new Red Sox first baseman hopes leads to game action sometime in the next week. With the Sox playing across Florida in Jupiter against the St. Louis Cardinals, Napoli stayed behind at JetBlue Park to run the bases, sprinting no farther than second base as he continues to take things slowly while maintaining health in his bothersome right hip.
“It wasn’t a full-out go, but it felt good to just run and make the turns,” Napoli said.
The next step for the catcher-turned-first baseman will be sprinting from first to third. From there, he hopes to play a game by the weekend.
“It feels good,” Napoli said. “I expect to be fine. I’m just going through the steps of what they want me to do. I’m fine with it, as long as I’m ready for Opening Day, which I should be, easily.
“It’s a long spring and I’ll just get myself in shape and be ready to go.”
Lester starts over
Jon Lester made his spring debut in Jupiter, tossing two perfect innings with a strikeout in a 5-3 victory over the Cardinals.
The left-hander also took a positive first step toward erasing a 2012 (9-14, 4.82 ERA) he and everyone else would like to forget.
“I don’t know if sucking sets you up for a great season,” Lester told reporters. “But if it does, great. I don’t want to go through that again. It humbles you. The biggest thing was the embarrassment of not being me.”
The starter threw 17 of his 24 pitches for strikes and recorded his final three outs on just six pitches. Manager John Farrell likes what he has seen this spring.
“The delivery you see now is more like seeing it before,” Farrell said. “Over the past couple years, you would kind of see some things he drifted into — that lead leg would be like a swinging gate, a little bit more collapse on his back side. He lost some of the downhill plane and the deception through the strike zone. He’s made some tangible adjustments in camp. Those started late last season and they’ve carried over into this spring training.”
Napoli turns corner by running bases
Boston Herald | Feb 25