2/28/2013 6:24 P.M. ET
Napoli set for Red Sox debut on Friday
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
BRADENTON, Fla. -- All systems are go for new Red Sox slugger Mike Napoli to make his Grapefruit League debut on Friday night against the Pirates.
After weeks of talking about his hip condition (avascular necrosis), Napoli looks forward to getting on the field and proving that the injury won't be an issue.
"Just play the game," Napoli said. "That's the best way to go at it. That's the way I've always done it. I'm just going to play the game and let things happen. When you start worrying about things like, 'I can't slide, I shouldn't slide,' that's when you get in between and hurt yourself."
Napoli is making the transition to full-time first baseman this season after serving as primarily a catcher during his career.
He has had plenty of tutorials this spring with infield instructor Brian Butterfield.
"I feel a lot more comfortable over there, especially turning the double play, where my feet should be, where I should be taking the ball and receiving the ball," said Napoli. "It's been going [well]."
Lackey feels good after latest start
BRADENTON, Fla. -- There will come a time this spring when John Lackey starts reading into results to see where he's at in his comeback from Tommy John surgery. For now, the righty is just trying to regain his feel for pitching.
After giving up three hits and three runs over two innings on Thursday against the Pirates, Lackey remained encouraged with his progress.
"I felt good. My arm felt good," said Lackey. "Good step in the process. We added a couple of breaking balls. I threw a couple of good ones, hung a couple. It's a good step in the right direction."
All three runs came in the second inning, courtesy of a three-run homer by Jared Goedert.
"Three up and downs when you consider the warm ups," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "I thought he had much better fastball command today than five days ago. He mixed three pitches in for strikes today. One breaking ball stayed up in the middle of the plate for him. But I thought today was another progressive step for him."
Holt working all over the field at camp
BRADENTON, Fla. -- New Red Sox closer Joel Hanrahan did not make the trip to Bradenton on Thursday to meet up with his old team, the Pittsburgh Pirates. However, Brock Holt, the other player Boston acquired in the deal, was on hand and went 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
Holt is competing with Pedro Ciriaco to be Boston's utility infielder to start the season.
"I'm just coming to the park every day and trying to get better. I'm going to be working at different infield positions," said Holt. "I'm looking forward to that. But I'm going to do whatever I can to try to make this team. If I don't, I'll do whatever I can to get up there as soon as possible."
Manager John Farrell added that Holt could expand his horizons by getting some work in center field. A middle infielder by trade, Holt is getting work at third this spring as well.
"He's got plenty of arm to play the position there," said Farrell. "Anytime we talk about a middle infielder going to third base, it's always the reads and the angles. You're that much closer to the action, to the plate, where reaction time becomes a little more of a necessity than the middle of the infield."
Though Hanrahan was clearly the player on Boston's front burner, the club also made it a point to have Pittsburgh include Holt in the deal.
"Very much so," said Farrell. "An infielder that's a left-handed hitter that can do some of the other things inside the game -- run, do the small game -- he was very much part of the deal, not just an added person in it. We actively [asked] to include him."
In a 24-game cameo with the Pirates last season, Holt performed well, hitting .292 in 65 at-bats.
Ciriaco -- another former Pirate -- also performed above expectations with Boston.
The Red Sox have the flexibility of optioning Holt to the Minors for the start of the season. Ciriaco is out of options.
Gomes day to day after colliding with wall
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Red Sox left fielder Jonny Gomes had to get stitches in his left knee after colliding with the wall in Sarasota on Wednesday night, but he should be able to return to the lineup fairly soon.
"When Gomes went up against the wall last night, he banged his knee and he did get three stitches in it," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "So he's day to day right now. But as tough as he is … he mentioned Gomes 1, the outfield fence 0."