Napoli hopes homer leads to resurgence at plate

Napoli hopes homer leads to resurgence at plate

Napoli hopes homer leads to resurgence at plate

TORONTO -- Mike Napoli, who was expected to be Boston's lead protector in the batting order for David Ortiz, was lowered in the batting order for the second time in a span of six days.

But instead of wallowing about his recent lack of success, Napoli reversed his fortunes while batting seventh in the batting order for the first time this season on Wednesday.

With two outs in the top of the ninth inning, the right-handed slugger belted a game-tying two-run homer to right.

The Red Sox eventually lost, 4-3, in 10 innings. But in the big picture, a resurgence by Napoli would be critical.

"Yeah I mean, a guy like him, we get him going, it just lengthens our lineup, so hopefully that puts him in a good frame of mind," said Red Sox lefty Jon Lester. "And he should be pumped about that, he's pretty excited. Hopefully we can get him going. Once we do that, like I just said, it lengthens our lineup, makes us that much stronger. So that was a good thing to see from him, especially going the other way with it."

The home run by Napoli ended an 0-for-16 slump.

Manager John Farrell and Napoli chatted Wednesday to discuss the move to seventh in the lineup.

"We talked and it's about winning," said Napoli. "I've been struggling a little bit and I'm up for whatever is going to help us win. If it's dropping me down a little bit until I get out of this little funk I'm going through, I'm all for it. I'm not looking at it in any bad way. Yeah, we had a good conversation. I'm going to go out there and try to turn it around and get back hitting again."

While his bat showed signs of life both before and right after the All-Star break, Napoli had gone ice-cold in August, coming up with just five hits in his first 40 at-bats of August, just one of them for extra bases.

Though he has been a notorious streak hitter during his career, Napoli admits that his current slide is more than run of the mill.

"It's probably been one of the more difficult ones I've been through," Napoli said.

How so?

"Just a feeling of how long it's been. I've had a couple of games here and there where I felt good," Napoli said. "I think just the way I've been feeling, it hasn't really clicked over. It's probably been one of the more difficult stretches I've been through."

Though Napoli has been the team's primary first baseman all season, Farrell indicated that he will start mixing in left-handed hitters Daniel Nava and Mike Carp more often.

Jonny Gomes and Stephen Drew, two players who have swung the bat well of late, batted fifth and sixth Wednesday.

"And we feel like that's the combination for now," Farrell said. "We'd also look to possibly rotate some guys in through that first base position. I'm not going to say we're going to go to a strict platoon situation. Obviously that's not the case going against a right-hander tonight."

Ian Browne is a reporter for Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.