Mike Napoli performed like a man who was 100 percent Saturday. In reality, he was not.
Napoli collected three hits as the Red Sox took down the Dodgers 4-2 in his first start since Aug. 16. The sporadic playing time has been in large part because of Boston’s interleague road slate, but the slugger has also been dealing with plantar fasciitis.
Napoli made it clear that his foot ailment isn’t to blame for his recent offensive struggles. The injury certainly doesn’t tickle, though, and Napoli recently received a cortisone shot in his left foot.
“I got to play a couple of innings, here and there, in the past week and it’s felt alright,” Napoli told reporters in Los Angeles on Saturday. “The reason I got the injection is I was at a point where it was bothering me pretty good. I’ll go in for treatment every day like I’ve been and try to take care of it the best that I can.
“It’s feeling better. I get my ankle taped a certain way and do my treatment. I’ll just have to grind through it and play through some pain, which I’ve been doing.”
Napoli is hitting just .192 (10-for-52) with one home run, six RBIs and a .611 OPS in August. He has struck out 20 times in 16 games this month, and his struggles even caused manager John Farrell to drop Napoli down in the order. The Red Sox skipper thinks that the recent rest could be a good thing.
“To come back and have three hits … it’s been quite awhile since he had three hits in a game. I think the rest has done him well, obviously makes the foot feel better, but I think just overall to get his legs back underneath him,” Farrell said after Saturday’s win. “Whether we have to space out some rest periodically more regularly for him, we’ll look to do that, but [there’s] one thing we’ve noticed. When he does have rest, he’s come back and swung the bat very well. The swing hasn’t gotten as loose, so to speak, and gotten more compact.”
Napoli will see more at-bats after the Red Sox finish their interleague swing out west. But he’ll likely do so with lingering discomfort, which the first baseman said is its worst when he’s running the bases and comes and goes when he’s playing the field.
“Everyone’s different,” said Napoli, who is aware the such an ailment ended Albert Pujols‘ season. “Everyone handles things differently. I don’t know what was going on with his situation. Only time will tell. We’ll see what happens. I’m going to try to stay on the field and deal with it as much as possible.”
Farrell said that he still plans to use Mike Carp and Daniel Nava at first base in certain situations down the stretch.