MINNEAPOLIS — As general managers build their rosters, they are increasingly inclined to accept more strikeouts if it means a player gives them power.
Mike Napoli is a perfect example of that. Through Friday, he was tied for the most extra-base hits in the American League with 26 and was third in strikeouts with 57.
After going 1 for 2 with three walks and a strikeout Saturday night, Napoli is hitting .259, which is consistent with his career. His .330 on-base percentage isn’t great, but it’s made up for by a .512 slugging percentage.
“I understand the thinking about wanting some power. But I don’t like how much I’m striking out,” Napoli said. “I don’t want to be an all-or-nothing hitter.”
Napoli entered the night on pace to strike out 220 times. The team record is 177 by Mark Bellhorn in 2004.
Napoli is not afraid to work deep into counts and leads the majors with 4.46 pitches per plate appearance. That has led to the large number of strikeouts. Looking for a good pitch to drive comes at a cost.
“I choke up when I get to two strikes and try and make contact,” Napoli said. “I’ll take a single. But I do tend to see a lot of pitches. I don’t really have a number in mind but I would like to hit for a higher average.”
The single-season strikeout record in baseball is 223 by Mark Reynolds in 2009.
Only three players have struck out 200 times in a season. Reynolds has done it three times, joined by Adam Dunn (222 in 2012) and Drew Stubbs (205 in 2011).
“I’m pretty mad when I strike out,” Napoli said. “That’s not going to change.”
Victorino, Drew out
Shane Victorino and Stephen Drew were out of the Red Sox lineup, each with a sore back.
Victorino was injured in the eighth inning against the Rays on Thursday when he crashed into the wall making a catch in right field. He came out of the game before the ninth inning and did not play Friday.
Victorino took batting practice in the cage and on the field, and said he hopes to play Sunday.
“Shane feels better than he did last night. But still there’s probably a little too much risk running him out there today when another day might just get him over the hump somewhat,” manager John Farrell said.
Once Victorino is ready to go, he could be starting a game in center field.
Farrell wants to get all of his regulars a day off in this stretch of 20 games in 20 days. Jacoby Ellsbury has played in every inning this season.
Victorino has not played center field this season, even in spring training, but has been a center fielder for much of his career.
Drew was injured in the eighth inning Friday night when he doubled and contorted his body when he slid into the base. He stayed in the game.
Drew’s pain is in the middle of his back and affects his throwing more than his hitting. Farrell said his absence was more of a precaution.
Gomes in play
Jonny Gomes has started four of the last five games and will probably be getting more time with the Sox scheduled to face lefthanders on Sunday (Pedro Hernandez), Tuesday (Carlos Quintana), and Wednesday (Chris Sale).
Farrell said his intent was to start the righthanded-hitting Gomes against all of those lefthanders.
After going 1 for 4 with a walk and two runs Saturday night, Gomes is hitting .187 with a .337 on-base percentage thanks to 17 walks.
“He’s had good at-bats against righthanders,” Farrell said. “The base hit against [Jamey] Wright down in Tampa [on Wednesday]. He’s taken some walks; he’s laid off some breaking balls that have been to the edge or off the plate.”
Farrell feels that more regular at-bats will help Gomes become more productive.
“We could sure use what he’s capable of,” Farrell said.
Close call for Miller
Andrew Miller had an unusual experience in the ninth inning Friday. After retiring the Twins in order in the eighth, he went back to the dugout and was looking for a piece of bubblegum.
“I heard this whistling noise behind me,” he said. “Then it happened.”
Teammate Jarrod Saltalamacchia had fouled a ball into the dugout. It struck a padded wall and ricocheted off Miller’s forehead.
“I was like, ‘What just happened?’ But I was OK,” Miller said.
Miller got two outs in the ninth before coming out of the game. He came away without a scratch.
Miller is 6 feet 7 inches. This was one time his height worked against him.
“I couldn’t duck,” he said.
Miller retired all five batters he faced, three by strikeout. In his last 12 games, Miller has allowed three runs on seven hits over nine innings. He has walked two and struck out 16. He has thrown 96 of 149 pitches for strikes.
“After the first three or four outings of the season, he’s really started to turn the corner,” Farrell said. “The dependability of strike-throwing is there, and the breaking ball has been much more consistent to give him something to get righthanders off his fastball.”
Miller said getting more regular work has helped him.
“I’m repeating my delivery now and the confidence is there,” he said.
Bailey on mend
Andrew Bailey pitched an inning for Triple A Pawtucket on Saturday. He allowed a run on two hits — one a home run — and struck out two. He threw 14 of 17 pitches for strikes. Bailey, who is on the disabled list with a biceps strain, hit 96 miles per hour with his fastball and is expected to be activated Monday. Franklin Morales started that game and was hit hard, giving up five runs in four innings. He gave up two home runs. It was the fourth rehab start for Morales, who has been out all season recovering from a spring training back injury. The Sox are preparing the lefthander to work as a starter in case one is needed . . . Rookie righthander Alex Wilson replaced Miller with two outs in the ninth inning Friday and got Trevor Plouffe on a fly ball to deep center field. When the Sox scored three runs in the top of the 10th inning, Wilson got his first major league victory. “Funny how it comes that way,” said Wilson, 26, who threw two more scoreless innings Saturday night. “I threw two pitches.” . . . David Ortiz has played in 1,401 games for the Sox, moving past Dom DiMaggio for 10th place in team history. Jason Varitek is ninth with 1,546 . . . Perhaps you’ve noticed the Sox are on the field for the national anthem this season. Farrell made it a team rule. In recent years, under Terry Francona and Bobby Valentine, there were rarely more than two or three players on the field.Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.