Napoli takes flight thanks to Pedroia's help
BOSTON -- The breakthrough that a slumping Mike Napoli has been looking for might have come on a late-night flight somewhere between Seattle and Boston.
Napoli was poring through video with Dustin Pedroia, his closest friend on the team, and together they spotted a mechanical glitch.
Playing his first game since the in-flight film dissection, Napoli (2-for-4, two RBIs), belted a homer over the Green Monster while helping the Red Sox to a 4-3 victory over the Rangers on Tuesday night at Fenway Park.
For one of the few times this season, the slugger could smile after a game, knowing he had an important hit in a win.
"Me and Pee Wee had a conversation on the way home from Seattle. It was a long flight and we looked at some video," said Napoli. "Obviously I've been struggling. We saw some video, some things I wasn't doing in Spring Training. I wasn't getting into my load position. He pointed that out to me, and we looked at video and what I'm doing now. I'm not saying it's fixed or anything. I had a good night. I've got something to work on and a base to work off of."
Slumps aren't fixed in a day, but they are always easier to get out of when you know the problem. Give the assist to Pedroia.
"We talk hitting all the time -- it's what we do," Napoli said. "He's good like that. He likes helping out his teammates, and I like doing the same for him and other teammates. It's nice."
Pedroia was just glad to be able to help out an important teammate.
"You have to get back to the basics sometimes," Pedroia said. "When you go through funks, you put too much pressure on yourself instead of just seeing the ball and kind of simplifying everything. So it was good for him to see some results and put good swings on it tonight. Something to build on."
The problem Napoli (.174, four homers) is trying to solve, in a nutshell?
"Just me getting into a loaded position and being able to fire," Napoli said. "My hands weren't getting back to be able to fire -- that's what we saw in some video, and it's something for me to work off of."
Pedroia's conversation with Napoli wasn't just mechanical, but also psychological.
"When you struggle, everybody tries to tell you how to fix it. You rely the most on your teammates, because they're the ones who see you the most," Pedroia said. "I've seen him hit a lot over the last three years. You have to simplify and do what you do. Like I told him, 'Hey, it's OK if you strike out. You're here to drive the ball out of the ballpark. Take chances and be a big-time presence.' He definitely was tonight."