With Dustin Pedroia going back on the disabled list and Brock Holt leaving Sunday night’s game with a hyperextended knee, the Red Sox are pressed for infield depth.
Fortunately for the team, Holt’s injury is not serious and the utilityman will likely return to the lineup Tuesday, according to manager John Farrell.
“He’s improved today, yet at the recommendation of the medical staff, another day was needed. Everything is hopefully pointing to him returning to the lineup tomorrow, but felt like another day would do him well,” Farrell said. “In an emergency, we’d probably use him but we’d prefer to give him a day of rest if we could.”
After struggling mightily for much of the season, Mike Napoli has begun to heat up at the plate since the All-Star break. Farrell has been impressed with his first baseman’s improvement at the dish.
“What’s been most encouraging is that pitches in the strike zone he’s squaring up that he’s not missing. He’s still taking his walks but I think he’s more confident, he shows more confidence at the plate. There’s at-bats where he’s offering at the first pitch and putting good swings on some pitches that’s, I think, putting some doubt in a pitcher’s mind,” Farrell said.
David Ortiz had one of the best night’s of his career on Sunday, going 4-for-5 with two homers. He set a new career-high with seven RBIs. Farrell liked what he saw from the hulking designated hitter, especially Ortiz’s second home run, which was launched into the Monster seats in left-center.
“The most encouraging swing last night, to me, obviously, is the home run he hits to left-center field. That allows him to lock in on left-handers as well. … Home runs come by virtue of a good swing, not by virtue of trying to hit home runs. I think those were two situations last night that reflect that,” Farrell said.
After being called up early Sunday, Jemile Weeks took over at second base after Holt left with an injury. Weeks went 1-for-2 and will start at second Monday. He has not been great at Triple-A Pawtucket this season, hitting .207 with just a single home run and five RBIs in 51 games. Farrell recalled liking what he saw from Weeks in spring training as well as his performance Sunday.
“Jemile was very impressive in spring training. Moving all over the field, hitting from both sides of the plate. He’s on short-notice, obviously, with Brock’s situation last night. He jumps in, he puts up two quality at-bats. Fought off a pitch with two strikes the other way for a bloop base hit. It’s a half a game played last night but in our eyes .. He picked up right where he left off in spring training,” Farrell said.
Over the first 99 games of the season, the Red Sox have often not been efficient offensively. Farrell addressed the team’s inconsistencies at the plate, saying that a lot of the struggles have resulted from poor situational hitting.
“I think there’s been times we have not hit to the situation. What that means is not using the whole field as much as we could in RBI situations. … We started to turn things around on that trip to Toronto before we went out West. We started to hit the ball all over the field rather than become a little bit too pull-oriented,” Farrell said. “We rolled with that approach for the better part of a month and it reflected in our overall record. We’re trying to get back to that.”