Red Sox

Spring training notes: Napoli to receive follow-up MRI

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Spring training notes: Napoli to receive follow-up MRI

FORT MYERS, Fla. Mike Napoli is scheduled to undergo a follow-up MRI on Thursday. Napoli, who signed a one-year, 5 million contract with the Red Sox as a free agent in January, was found to have avascular necrosis in both hips during his physical with the team in December.

He has been restricted from doing any impact activities. Manager John Farrell said the teams hope is the results of the next MRI will allow Napoli to take on more impact and baseball activities.

And thatll be a gradual increase in baseball activities, Farrell said. Right now theres no impact or pounding, so to speak. Well get the evaluation of his doctor in New York once its reviewed, the MRI results, and then therell be a work plan laid out, not only volume but the type of work that will follow from that point.

Farrell is optimistic Napoli will be ready for Opening Day.

Right now everything still points to him being ready for opening day, Farrell said. Thursday and the next couple of days is going to give us a lot of information on how we can start his progression with more on field baseball activity.

Despite Will Middlebrooks break-out rookie season, which was cut short by a fractured right wrist, Farrell said there are a few things he would like the third baseman to work on.

I think theres areas defensively, just with his consistency of the footwork, maybe his range to his glove side I know are focal points that hell work with Brian Butterfield at here, Farrell said. But once again, when you talk about a young talented player still going through that cycle and full season for the first time well get to know more about him as well. I know one thing, Im glad hes here.

An area Farrell would like the team to work on is working counts better. Which may be accomplished just by the turnover the team has undergone this offseason.

I think when you look at the change in personnel probably had as much to do with that as anything, Farrell said. And the hitters that have been brought in here, the position players that have been brought in here, theres a distinct track record along those lines.

Daniel Nava, Mitch Maier, Lyle Overbay, and Mauro Gomez all worked out at first base today.

They will continue to take ground balls because as we mentioned yesterday theres that left-handed hitterback-up first basemanleft fielder thats one of the positions that you see those four guys in competition for, Farrell said. So barring any other additions well get as many reps as we can from each of those guys.

Left-hander Felix Doubront, who has been held back because of shoulder weakness, threw from 75 feet on Wednesday. Farrell said Doubront is expected to throw from 90 and 120 feet on Thursday, and remains on track to throw from a mound on Feb. 20.

All the position players, along with pitchers and catchers, have reported to camp except for right-fielder Shane Victorino. Jacoby Ellsbury has been in but has not worked out on the field yet. The first full-squad workout is scheduled for Friday.

Bob Tewksbury, the Sox sports psychology coach, is conducting mental skills clinics with the players. He met with starting pitchers Wednesday, and is scheduled to meet with the relievers on Thursday and position players after that.

ALCS: Tanaka, Yankees top Keuchel, Astros 5-0 for 3-2 lead

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ALCS: Tanaka, Yankees top Keuchel, Astros 5-0 for 3-2 lead

NEW YORK - Masahiro Tanaka pitched seven innings of three-hit ball and the New York Yankees finally solved Houston Astros nemesis Dallas Keuchel, beating the ace lefty 5-0 on Wednesday for a 3-2 lead in the AL Championship Series.

Gary Sanchez hit an RBI single off Keuchel and later homered to help the wild-card Yankees win for the third straight day at home and move within one victory of their first trip to the World Series since 2009.

The teams head back to Houston for Game 6 on Friday night, when Justin Verlander and the reeling Astros will try to regain their footing following an off day and force a decisive Game 7. Luis Severino is scheduled to start for New York.

Just days ago, Houston was up two games to none and appeared to be closing in on its second World Series appearance. But the Astros, like defending AL champion Cleveland before them, have been unable to put away these poised Yankees, who improved to 6-0 at home in this postseason in front of their cheering, chanting fans.

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NLCS: Dodgers close in on World Series with 6-1 win over Cubs

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NLCS: Dodgers close in on World Series with 6-1 win over Cubs

CHICAGO -- The Los Angeles Dodgers have a tough lineup, a talented pitching staff and a manager making all the right moves.

Yup, it's beginning to look a lot like 1988.

Yu Darvish pitched sparkling ball into the seventh inning, Chris Taylor homered again and the Dodgers beat the Chicago Cubs 6-1 on Tuesday night to open a 3-0 lead in the NL Championship Series.

Andre Ethier also went deep and Taylor added an RBI triple in the fifth as Los Angeles improved to 6-0 in this postseason, setting a franchise record for consecutive playoff wins. Yasiel Puig had two more hits in another entertaining performance that included an impressive bat flip - on a long foul ball in the first inning.

"The focus has certainly been heightened in the postseason," manager Dave Roberts said.

Looking for a four-game sweep and their 22nd pennant, the Dodgers will send Alex Wood to the mound Wednesday night at Wrigley Field with a chance to reach the World Series for the first time since Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda managed Kirk Gibson, Orel Hershiser and Co. to the club's last championship 29 years ago.

Jake Arrieta, eligible for free agency after the season, pitches for the Cubs in what could be his final start with the team.

"I think we've won four games in a row before," Chicago slugger Kris Bryant said. "Obviously, it's going to be a tougher road. But it'll make the story that much better. Can you imagine that?"

Los Angeles was eliminated by Chicago in the NLCS last year, but this is a different group of Dodgers. Their patient lineup is coming up big in key spots and the pitching staff is much deeper, especially since Darvish was acquired in a trade with Texas in the final minutes before the July 31 deadline.

Not even a return to Wrigley could get the Cubs back on track after a rough stay in Los Angeles. Chicago manager Joe Maddon juggled his lineup, inserting Kyle Schwarber into the No. 2 slot and benching slumping second baseman Javier Baez, but the defending World Series champions were shut down by another Dodgers starter and more stellar relief from the NL West champions.

"I really didn't change much approach-wise from first inning until the end of the game," Darvish said through a translator. "I just kept pitching the same way."

Making their third straight appearance in the NLCS, the weary Cubs also hurt themselves with a couple of big mistakes. Carl Edwards Jr. walked Darvish on four pitches with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth, continuing a rocky postseason for the reliever and leading to a round of boos from a frustrated crowd of 41,871.

A passed ball brought home another run in the eighth, and pinch hitter Kyle Farmer hit a sacrifice fly to make it 6-1.

Darvish departed after striking out Addison Russell in the seventh, pausing for congratulations from his whole infield before heading to the dugout. The Japanese right-hander allowed six hits, including Schwarber's first-inning homer, in his second career playoff win - both this year. He struck out seven and walked one.

Tony Watson got two outs, Brandon Morrow worked the eighth and Kenley Jansen closed it out after Ross Stripling gave up two hits in the ninth. With Roberts pushing the right buttons, Los Angeles' bullpen has yet to allow a run in the series.

"I think everybody's just been attacking," Morrow said. "That's the No. 1 thing."

The only four-game postseason sweep for the Dodgers came in the 1963 World Series against the New York Yankees. If Los Angeles can finish off Chicago on Wednesday, the Dodgers would have five days off before hosting the Yankees or Houston Astros in the World Series opener.

"We knew today was the most important game, and now tomorrow's the most important game," Ethier said. "We're going to come out and figure out how to get the job done again."

Schwarber's sixth career postseason homer got Chicago off to a fast start, but Jon Jay struck out with two on to end the inning. The Dodgers responded with Ethier's leadoff drive in the second and Taylor's second homer of the series in the third, a mammoth shot to center off losing pitcher Kyle Hendricks.

"We had a chance obviously, early," Maddon said. "We hit some balls well early in the game, and then he settled in."

Ethier had two hits in his first start of this year's playoffs after he missed most of the season with a herniated lumbar disk. Taylor also had two hits and is 4 for 14 for the series, helping make up for the loss of All-Star shortstop Corey Seager to a back injury.

ON THIS DAY

Tuesday was the 13th anniversary of Roberts' memorable stolen base for Boston in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS against the New York Yankees. The Red Sox were three outs from elimination when Roberts ran for Kevin Millar, swiped second and scored on Bill Mueller's single.

Boston went on to rally past New York and sweep St. Louis for its first World Series championship since 1918. Roberts said he never mentions the steal to his players, but it comes up occasionally.

"Yu Darvish about two weeks ago I guess was surfing the internet, and there was an `aha' moment," Roberts said. "He ran across the stolen base and kind of put two and two together and didn't realize that was his manager. So he proceeded to kind of awkwardly approach me about it and talked about my goatee and how I could steal a base."

UP NEXT

Dodgers: Wood, who had a career-high 16 wins this season, will make his first appearance since Sept. 26. He was lined up for Game 4 of the NLDS, but the Dodgers swept the Diamondbacks in three games.

Cubs: Arrieta has pitched just 14 1/3 innings since Aug. 30, including four innings of two-hit ball against Washington in Game 4 of the NLDS. The 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner was hampered by a right hamstring injury at the end of the season.

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