The Red Sox started David Ortiz at first base in Sunday. On Tuesday, they summoned Travis Shaw from Triple A Pawtucket and put him in the lineup against the Miami Marlins.
Shaw was 3 for 4 and scored a run in a 4-3 victory. Where does that leave Mike Napoli? For now, he’s still on the roster. But it’s clear the Sox are running out of patience.
Napoli is hitting .192 with a .652 OPS and his last home run came on June 17. Napoli has been prone to cold streaks throughout his career but this one has essentially lasted all season.
Napoli is 2 of his last 27 and 5 of 46 and has one RBI in his last 15 games.
“It’s been frustrating . . . just keep fighting and try and get out of it. I’ve been here before,” Napoli said. “It’s been a tough first half. I still have confidence I’m a good baseball player. I’m going to come out of it. I’m going to put in the work to get out of this thing.”
Napoli had surgery in November to correct what had become debilitating sleep apnea. He hit .400 with six home runs in spring training and looked poised for a big season.
But outside of a handful of games, it hasn’t happened.
“I feel so good. I’m healthy; I’m sleeping well. That’s the frustrating part. I’m putting in work,” Napoli said. “I’ve probably put in more work this year than I ever have in my career because I’m not tired. I don’t know. I’m just going to keep grinding and when I get my opportunity make the best of it.”
Shaw was hitting a modest .250 with a .684 OPS in 66 games for Pawtucket. That Shaw was called up and started in place of Napoli is a sign of just how willing the Sox are to consider a change at first.
“We needed another guy that can play first base. Here to contribute,” manager John Farrell said.
Napoli said his work with the hitting coaches has been focused on staying on top of the ball and using the middle of the field.
“I wake up everyday thinking today’s the day. I’m a confident person. I’ve been doing this for a long time. I know I’m one swing away to feeling the way I need to feel,” he said.
“I know I’m a better player than this. I’m going to keep working, keep grinding away.”
Napoli may not return to the lineup on Wednesday. With a day off coming up on Thursday, Farrell suggested that Ortiz would play first base.
“Yeah, there’s a lot of thought,” the manager said. “The way the schedule works out, it gives David a day of recovery if we were to choose to do that. I do know this: There was a deep lineup [on Sunday]. I think it was reflective in the number of quality at-bats.”
Napoli is signed through the end of this season. At some point, if he doesn’t produce, the Red Sox could decide to move on. If Napoli is concerned about being released or traded for pennies on the dollar, he doesn’t show it.
“I come here everyday and put in the work,” he said. “You never know in this business.”
Pedroia on deck?
Dustin Pedroia is eligible to come off the disabled list on Friday against the Yankees. The second baseman, out with a strained right hamstring, has been taking batting practice and on Tuesday took ground balls on the field.
The Red Sox have to measure whether Pedroia should get back on the field or use the All-Star break to make sure he has fully recovered.
“He’s changing direction with his running. All that continues to increase. No greater insights whether he’s activated this weekend or not,” Farrell said. “We know that Pedey will be out there when first available. We’re going through this day to day.”
Buchholz staying put
Clay Buchholz is scheduled to start against the Yankees on Friday, his final appearance before the break. But the righthander won’t be going on vacation.
“I’m going to stay [in Boston] and stay on my throwing program,” he said. “I don’t want to get out of rhythm and take four days off before doing something again.”
The Red Sox haven’t announced their rotation for after the break. But Buchholz is sure to get at least six days off between starts.
Koji Uehara, who got the final three outs, has at least 20 saves for the third straight season . . . The Sox will try to win the two-game series with Rick Porcello on the mound Wednesday. He is 0-7 with an 8.18 ERA in his last eight starts. The Sox are hopeful that working with Ryan Hanigan for the first time since April will snap Porcello out of his funk . . . Mookie Betts grounded into his first double play of the season, a 6-4-3 twin killing in the second inning. Betts had gone 323 at-bats without a double play. It was the longest active streak in the majors and the longest to open a season by a Red Sox player since Otis Nixon went all 398 at-bats in 1994 without one . . . Miami first baseman Jeff Baker struck out in the second inning, then left the game with left oblique pain. Michael Morse shifted from left field to first base and Ichiro Suzuki came in to play left field . . . To make room for Shaw on the roster, the Sox optioned righthander Steven Wright to Pawtucket . . . Rusney Castillo was out of the Pawtucket lineup with what general manager Ben Cherington said was tightness in his groin. He is only expected to miss a few days. Castillo came out of Sunday’s game in the eighth inning.
Welcome to town
New Bruins Jimmy Hayes and Matt Beleskey were at the game . . . Little League World Series star Mo’Ne Davis threw out the first pitch to Pedroia and fired a strike to the delight of the crowd. Davis and her Anderson Monarch teammates out of Philadelphia are on a 23-day tour of ballparks and civil rights sites.