Napoli has no problem taming Green Monster
First baseman goes deep again, has no designs on changing his swing
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Unlike some previous right-handed sluggers who were acquired because they could be good fits for Fenway Park, Mike Napoli is not a dead pull hitter.
But as Napoli displayed in emphatic fashion on Tuesday night at JetBlue Park, Fenway is not going to hold him when he does turn on a pitch.
In the bottom of the fourth inning of the Red Sox's 4-3 win against Team Puerto Rico's World Baseball Classic squad, Napoli hit a towering shot over the Green Monster.
It was his second prodigious home run in three days. On Sunday, Napoli belted the type of shot he takes more pride in, a 420-foot rocket to right-center.
"I like to drive the ball to right-center," said Napoli. "It's definitely nice having something so close. You can get away with some stuff and not really get into a ball and it can go off the wall, where at another park it's probably an out. It's definitely a great place to hit and it's comfortable. It's nice to have that wall there. Typically I like to hit to the gaps, and if it goes out of the park, it goes out of the park."
Some right-handed sluggers have become too pull-happy after coming to the Red Sox, but Napoli has no plans on changing his swing.
"I'm not going to try to change my swing," Napoli said. "I'm comfortable, and when I'm going good, I'm driving the ball the other way. I'm going to try to keep doing that and in Fenway. You drive the ball the other way, and if you get a mistake to where it's offspeed, you stay through it and pull it. I'm not going to change my approach just because of the park dimensions, but I'm going to try to do whatever makes me comfortable and gets me locked in."
Of all the players on the Red Sox, John Lackey knows most what Napoli looks like when he is locked in. They were teammates with the Angels.
"He's going to add a lot," Lackey said. "He's a great guy, great in the clubhouse. Obviously you've seen the pop the last couple of times he's played. That ball he hit to center field [on Sunday], that's legit. I don't care what time of year it is."
Count Lackey among those who look forward to seeing what type of offensive numbers Napoli can put up when he doesn't have to deal with the rigors of catching.
"We've talked about that. It's less to think about it," Lackey said. "He doesn't have to think about who's coming up, how to pitch those guys and it's less wear and tear on his body. He's basically there to lay in front of a ground ball and hit the ball over the fence, so it's going to be good."