FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Mike Napoli hit two solo home runs for the Boston Red Sox in a 5-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday.
Napoli connected in his only two at-bats, both times against Gerrit Cole.
Napoli had an eight-hour surgery in November to help his sleep apnea. The procedure required breaking his lower jaw.
The slugging first baseman said he’s felt good since the operation.
“My days have been better,” Napoli said. “I have a lot more energy. Things are going good.”
“I was banged up last year, too,” he said. “I was dealing with my toe, my finger. Some back issues going on. Lots of things going on last year. Overall, I’m healthy right now. I’m sleeping at night, it’s totally different.”
Red Sox manager John Farrell has noticed Napoli’s improved situation, noting the home runs “against a guy with very good stuff.”
“He looks fresh. He looks more energetic and I think it’s directly related to the procedure in the offseason,” Farrell said.
The 33-year-old Napoli is heading into his third season with the Red Sox. In 2013, he had 23 homers and 92 RBIs in 139 games; last season, he had 17 homers and 55 RBIs in 119 games.
Napoli likes his spot in a potent lineup this year, likely batting behind sluggers David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval.
“Our lineup is deeper and able to do a lot of damage,” Napoli said. “We all got to be able to work together and pass it on to the next guy.”
Starling Marte tripled and doubled for the Pirates, and scored both times on singles by Tony Sanchez.
Marte started in center field. Andrew McCutchen, the Pirates’ regular starter at the position, didn’t make the trip. He was a late scratch from Friday’s lineup because of soreness in his lower body.
Pirates: Cole pitched 3 2-3 innings, allowing the Napoli homers and two singles to DH Allen Craig. He struck out one. Cole threw 65 pitches.
“He was out there to work on specific things,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “He threw his breaking ball, his changeup. The offspeed pitches, more or less, were strikes. He probably in some cases wanted to bury them, go a little lower.”
“That’s what spring training is for. There is a reason for spring training, and a lot of people take it for granted. They want everyone to throw up zeroes the whole time. They’re working on things. He’s continuing to learn himself,” he said.
Red Sox: Henry Owens pitched three hitless innings, striking out three and walking three.
Farrell on the status of injured outfielder Rusney Castillo, who has yet to play in a game because of an oblique strain: “We’re hopeful that he’s in a BP session sometime in the coming days. … His return to the field is nearing.”
Pirates: Vance Worley is expected to start on Sunday against the Orioles.
Red Sox: Wade Miley starts at Philadelphia’s complex.
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