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WEEI » This Just In » Napoli passes early test in field, on bases
Fri, 03/01/2013 - 8:39pm  

Napoli passes early test in field, on bases

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Any thoughts that the Red Sox had about easing Mike Napoli into action vanished exactly one pitch into the first baseman’s first game in a Sox uniform.

With Jon Lester on the mound, Pirates center fielder Darren Ford pushed a bunt past the pitcher’s mound to Napoli. He fielded it cleanly and sprinted to first base just ahead of the sliding Ford, whose decision to hit the dirt forced Napoli to hop over him.

The full test continued in the bottom of the first, as Napoli negotiated a full-count against Pirates starter Jeff Locke (a left-hander) before scorching an RBI single up the middle off of Locke’s foot and into left field. He then advanced from first to third on Stephen Drew‘s double and scored (standing) from third on a wild pitch.

In other words, aside from sliding, Napoli had a chance to check just about every box in just one inning of his first game test of 2013. It underscored the idea that, despite the amount of attention conferred upon his degenerative condition in both hips (avascular necrosis), to this point, he looks very much like an unencumbered baseball player.

“He’s passed all the tests that we’ve put him through. There’s been no restrictions. Even when he was taking (batting practice) in the offseason, it was apparent that his lower half was free and we’re looking forward to getting him into the flow of things,” manager John Farrell said before the game.




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