HOUSTON — Mike Napoli has been traded twice before and if it happens again he won’t be surprised. The last-place Red Sox are out of contention and the non-waiver trade deadline of July 31 is coming up faster than Jose Altuve.
“I signed here; I want to stay here and I want to be with my teammates,” Napoli said on Tuesday before the Red Sox lost to the Houston Astros, 8-3. “If they trade me, that is out of my control. I’ll deal with it then.”
Napoli certainly isn’t being showcased. With Houston starting righthander Vince Velasquez, he was on the bench and Brock Holt started at first base.
Napoli is hitting .197 but has better career numbers in the second halves of seasons. He also has 47 games of playoff experience. If the Red Sox pick up some of the $6.7 million remaining on his contract, Napoli could return a prospect or two.
Shane Victorino, Wade Miley, Ryan Hanigan, Koji Uehara, Justin Masterson, and a handful of other players also would have varying degrees of value. Dealing bigger contracts such as those of Hanley Ramirez, Rick Porcello, and Pablo Sandoval would be more difficult.
That general manager Ben Cherington joined the team on Tuesday wasn’t a sign of anything. But it added to the idea that change is on the way.
“Show up and play. I can’t pay attention to that stuff,” Napoli said. “I think we all feel that way.”
Manager John Farrell believes the players won’t be distracted.
“Set aside the trade deadline. I can honestly say that our focus and every player’s focus is on what we have to do [daily],” he said. “Ben and his staff are going to take care of what potential trades might exist and what might benefit this team.
“In the clubhouse we’re focused on trying to put together a game and win tonight and move on to the next day.”
Kelly on WednesdayThe Red Sox will start righthander Joe Kelly Wednesday night, bringing him back from Triple A Pawtucket.
Miley starts on Thursday with Porcello facing the Tigers, his former team, on Friday at Fenway Park.
Kelly was 2-5 with a 5.67 earned run average in 14 starts before he was demoted. He started four games with Pawtucket and had a 2.84 ERA.
Kelly needed 98 pitches to get through five innings against Durham on Friday. But he allowed only two earned runs.
“There’s been more of an effort and emphasis on throwing the ball in to righthanders,” Farrell said. “Using both sides of the plate.”
Farrell did not commit to Kelly beyond Wednesday. Because of Monday’s doubleheader against the Angels, an extra starter was going to be needed this week.
“We’re really focused on the next five,” Farrell said.
Nava activatedOutfielder/first baseman Daniel Nava was activated off the disabled list and infielder Deven Marrero was optioned back to Pawtucket.
The Sox kept Nava on ice as long as they could. He spent 19 of a possible 20 days on a rehab assignment with Pawtucket, playing 10 games and hitting .250. The Sox had until Wednesday to activate Nava or designate him for assignment.
Nava hit a meager .159 with a .440 OPS over 27 games before the Sox put him on the disabled list on May 26 with what they said was a sprained left thumb.
Nava was a productive player with the Sox from 2012-14, hitting .278 with a .364 on-base percentage. Depending how the roster looks on Aug. 1, he could find playing time in right field or at first base.
For now, Farrell said, Nava will play off the bench.
Nava was a switch-hitter for much of his career then gave it up earlier this season to hit only lefthanded, something the Red Sox favored. But he did take righthanded at-bats with Pawtucket.
“He’s obviously gone back to it a little bit more frequently. It’s in play,” Farrell said.
Marrero was active for 20 games but had only seven plate appearances and started once.
Tipping againThe Red Sox acknowledged that rookie lefthander Eduardo Rodriguez was tipping pitches last month and worked to correct it. Rodriguez tended to lower his chin toward his chest when throwing an offspeed pitch, and the Orioles and Blue Jays picked up on it.
It appeared to happen again on Monday during his start against the Angels. Rodriguez was hit hard, giving up seven runs on six hits in 1⅔ innings. The Angels were on his fastball like they knew it was coming.
Farrell flatly denied Rodriguez was tipping, saying the problem “has been rectified.” The pitcher also said that wasn’t the case.
Video showed otherwise and pitching coach Carl Willis was working with Rodriguez on Tuesday, again trying to clean up his motion.
Rest a priorityBased on consultations with a sleep expert, the Sox had the team spend Monday night in California and fly here on Tuesday morning.
The Sox went directly from George Bush International Airport to Minute Maid Park, arriving four hours before the game.
The Sox will stay in Houston on Thursday night and fly to Boston on Friday morning. Traditionally, teams travel to the next city right after games.
An informal poll of a dozen players and coaches suggested they didn’t feel much of a difference.
“You’re going to be tired no matter what. But we’re used to that,” one player said.
Said Farrell: “A little different. Something’s going to give. The priority was to make sure that we were able to get as much rest as possible.”
Farrell was asked if he personally felt better rested.
“Well, I haven’t been sleeping much at all of late,” he said.
Dustin Pedroia, who passed on a minor-league rehab assignment during the All-Star break, is 0 for 20 since coming off the disabled list . . . Mookie Betts snapped an 0-for-20 skid with a double in the third inning . . . Xander Bogaerts (2 for 4) is 25 of 61 (.410) in July . . . Clay Buchholz, on the DL with a sore right elbow, has played catch the last three days and felt no discomfort. He will visit Dr. James Andrews in Florida Wednesday to get checked and to get advice on a throwing program . . . Brian Johnson, who started Tuesday night, was the fifth Sox pitcher to make his major league debut this season. Rodriguez, Noe Ramirez, Jonathan Aro, and Dalier Hinojosa were the others . . . Marathon bombing survivor Rebekah Gregory, a Texas resident, threw out the first pitch to big cheers.