FORT MYERS, Fla. — Mike Napoli played his first spring training game for the Red Sox on Friday night, and didn’t get much time to catch his breath.
The new first baseman played four innings and was involved in eight plays. He also was 1 for 2 with an RBI single and scored a run against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“I felt good. I felt comfortable over there,” he said. “I should after all the work we put in on the back fields. Everything felt good; my legs felt good. I was happy to be in there.”
Napoli was diagnosed in December with a condition that restricts the flow of blood to his hip bones and the Sox have been cautious with him since. He was restricted to batting practice and fielding drills for the first two weeks of spring training and only recently started running the bases.
Napoli finally got on the field and was tested right away when Darren Ford pushed a bunt to the right side. Napoli grabbed the ball and beat the speedy Ford to the bag by a step.
“I got it out of the way quick,” Napoli said. “I guess the ball finds you . . . [Dustin Pedroia] was looking at me and I was like, ‘Right out of the chute.’ It was funny but I’m glad I was able to make the play.”
Napoli came to the plate in the bottom of the inning with runners on first and second. He lined a ball off the foot of pitcher Jeff Locke. The ball rolled into left field and Napoli had his first RBI of the spring.
Napoli went first to third on a double by Stephen Drew then scored on a wild pitch.
“I felt I got everything out of the way in those first two innings,” Napoli said. “It was fun. I had a good time out there.”
Third baseman Will Middlebrooks was ready to play but manager John Farrell decided to give him an extra day of rest after the jolt of pain he felt in his right wrist on Wednesday night after a check swing.
“Just wanted to give him one more workday,” Farrell said. “I think we’re all best served by just another day of normal pregame, full BP, and on-field work.”
The plan is for Middlebrooks to start against the Twins on Saturday across town at Hammond Stadium.
“I’m fine,” he said. “I was ready to go. But I understand what they are doing.”
Left fielder Jonny Gomes is day to day because of a cut on his left knee that required three stitches. He was injured crashing into a fence on Wednesday night while chasing a ball that went for a home run.
“Probably another couple of days away,” Farrell said. “We want to make sure the laceration starts to close up. He wants to play.”
David Ortiz, who spent two days in the Dominican Republic on personal business, rejoined the team before the game. He will work out on Saturday and is at least a week away from playing . . . Farrell said that Alfredo Aceves has been a “model citizen” since lobbing the ball during live batting practice Feb. 17. Aceves leaves Sunday to join Mexico for the World Baseball Classic. Somewhat curiously, he swung at balls off a tee for about 20 minutes in the batting cage . . . The Red Sox will use Jackie Bradley Jr. and eventually Gomes in right field when Shane Victorino is away with Team USA for the WBC . . . Friday was the first of nine consecutive days the Red Sox will be in Fort Myers. The team has seven home games in that stretch and the two road games are 10 minutes away at Hammond Stadium . . . Bryce Brentz, the outfield prospect who shot himself in the leg while cleaning a handgun in January, is making progress but not yet doing full baseball activities. “We fully expect at some point in camp he’d be over in games here,” said Farrell. “When, we don’t have the exact date, but we’re hopeful that he would be back at full baseball activity and get into games on our side.”
The Red Sox put up a large piece of artwork outside the clubhouse, wrapped around the bullpen fence. It says “Legendary” and has photos of 13 players: Johnny Pesky, Jim Rice, Carlton Fisk, Ted Williams, Luis Tiant, Dwight Evans, Jason Varitek, Joe Cronin, Bobby Doerr, Tim Wakefield, Carl Yastrzemski, Pedro Martinez, and Tony Conigliaro . . . Minor league infielder Jeremy Farrell, the 26-year-old son of the Red Sox manager, was added to the Pirates’ roster for the game.