FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Mike Napoli was tested immediately at first base in his spring training debut with the Red Sox.
Darren Ford bunted the first pitch of the game, but Napoli fielded the ball and won a race to the bag in Boston's 5-2 win Friday night over a Pittsburgh Pirates split squad.A converted catcher, Napoli joined the Red Sox as a free agent in the offseason. He had been slowed in camp because of a hip problem that was discovered during his team physical, but Boston is looking for him to be its primary first baseman."I felt good," Napoli said. "I was comfortable over there. I should, after all the work we put in on the back fields and just working on it. Everything felt good. My legs felt good and I was happy to be in there tonight."Napoli also hit an RBI single off pitcher Jeff Locke's right leg and scored on a wild pitch in Boston's three-run first inning.Jon Lester pitched three scoreless innings for Boston in his second spring outing. He gave up one hit, struck out two and walked one."There were a lot of good things tonight," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "I thought, first with the pitching, each time Jon gets on the mound, whether it's inside work or game action, he's been down in the zone consistently. That was the case again tonight."And then when you consider how many plays Mike had over at first base, we couldn't draw it up probably any better in the four innings of work he had there."Locke went three innings, giving up three runs on four hits and two walks. He struck out three and threw a wild pitch.He faced seven Boston batters in the first inning and the first five reached base, although leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury was thrown out at second trying to stretch a single. Locke walked Dustin Pedroia and Shane Victorino before Napoli's RBI single and a run-scoring double by Stephen Drew.A wild pitch scored Napoli before Locke struck out Daniel Nava and Ryan Lavarnway to end the inning. Locke faced just six batters in his next two innings."I felt fine," he said. "It was good to get back out there and compete again. Obviously a very rough first inning. I don't know if it was just trying to aim it too much or not being aggressive enough. But I felt like after the storm there the sun came out a little bit and I started to throw better pitches. I was able to get out of the first and then I settled down. Still fell behind some guys but it's spring training still, we've got a long way ahead of us. Just got to take the positive from today and move on."The Red Sox added two runs in the fifth off Phil Irwin.Pittsburgh scored two in the eighth off knuckleballer Steven Wright and had the potential tying run at the plate in the ninth, but could not score."Came up a little short," manager Clint Hurdle said. "Gave ourselves an opportunity in the eighth and ninth with the tying run to the plate. But I thought we settled down. Jeffrey got a little sideways early, a couple walks and a ball off the shin. The game could have gotten away from him, but he was able to settle down. He got through the first and then put two zeros up there."We just have to keep battling, keep getting at-bats, get some rhythm, get some games in. We'll be fine."
Red Sox 3B Will Middlebrooks was given another night off to rest his right hand. He left Wednesday's game in the middle of his first at-bat, fearing he had hurt the hand that was broken when he was hit by a pitch Aug. 10, ending his rookie season. He is expected back in the lineup Saturday against the Twins. ... LHP Craig Breslow, who has not pitched yet this spring because of shoulder soreness, is scheduled to begin a throwing program Saturday. ... LF Jonny Gomes was given another day off after requiring three stitches to close a gash on his left knee sustained when he crashed into the outfield wall Wednesday. He is day to day. ... Three of Felix Pie's hits this spring have been for extra bases. ... The Pirates lost to the Orioles 6-5 in their other split-squad game. ... A day after issuing 15 walks to the Red Sox, the Pirates allowed a total of three walks in their two split-squad games.