DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Greetings from Dunedin, where Clay Buchholz makes his third start of the Grapefruit League season, his first against the Toronto Blue Jays this spring. Buchholz hopes to continue where he left off in Bradenton against the Pirates five days ago, when he tossed three scoreless innings.
Victorino sends caution up I-75: Reverberations rumbled through Dunedin when word got passed on to the media contingent that Shane Victorino did not play in the scheduled minor league game back in Fort Myers due to "feeling something in his thumb," according to Red Sox media relations. Victorino did take batting practice, though.
The Red Sox media relations staff said Farrell would make a comment on Victorino's health following the contest against the Blue Jays.
Surprise, surprise: Mike Napoli was a last-minute addition to the seemingly days-long trip from Fort Myers to Dunedin as spring baseball starts to ramp up toward Opening Day. John Farrell said Napoli wanted to start getting in consecutive days of work at first base.
"He felt like he wanted a little more regular repetition," Farrell said. "Tomorrow, he'll be off and be able to go back-to-back again."
When asked if there were any health issues regarding his hip, Farrell emphasized there is no "extra attention" to it for health reasons. Last January, Napoli was diagnosed with avascular necrosis (AVN) -- a degenerative hip condition that the 32-year-old has been able to manage with osteoporosis medication.
"Physically, he feels great," Farrell said.
While the health discovery played a role in his contract with the Sox before the start of the 2013 campaign (dropped from the original three-year, $39 million deal into a one-year deal worth $5 million plus incentives that boosted it to $13 million), the condition had no ill effect on his game. Napoli finished the regular season with 23 home runs and 92 RBIs with a .259 average and a .482 slugging percentage.
Better yet, he started a career-high 123 games at first and played a total of 131 contests there, committing just six errors.
"I think he will be better," Farrell said. "Now, how that plays out in some of those measurements. But the work that [Sox infield and third-base coach Brian Butterfield] has done with him, the athleticism that Mike shows. He's got soft hands. And I think just another year under his belt at the position just adds for greater comfort and he's turned himself into a hell of a first baseman."