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Struggling at plate, Napoli held out of lineup

HOUSTON -- Mired in an 0-for-14 slump, first baseman Mike Napoli was held out of the Red Sox's lineup in favor of Mike Carp on Wednesday night.

"Today was a day to get him off his feet," manager John Farrell said. "It was pretty much scheduled before the extra work was accomplished today. He needed some focused work to try and reproduce that more direct bat path through the point of contact. He's been grinding of late, but [I] felt the extra work was needed and a day off his feet.

"Right now, he's grinding, and as a result, I think the swing has gotten a little bit longer at times. And that's where you see him having to commit earlier to above average velocity, and that does make him susceptible to a bigger strike zone, possibly."

Napoli did get some good news recently, as he received word from his latest MRI that his degenerative hip ailment, avascular necrosis, hasn't worsened.

Still, Farrell admitted that the veteran isn't exactly fresh at this point in the season.

"He's got some things going on -- not the hip, the hip's not part of it. Like anybody else, there's ailments that guys are dealing with, not to the point of it being the reason for some things, or a stretch of performance," Farrell said. "He's managing things just like everybody else."

Since the July 20 MRI, Napoli has struck out in 40 percent of his at-bats (20 in 50 at-bats) and is hitting just .200 during that span.

Chris Abshire is an associate reporter for
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