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March 13, 2013

Mike Napoli helps Red Sox beat Blue Jays 5-3

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Clay Buchholz is showing signs that he is ready for the season. Mike Napoli is proving to his new Red Sox teammates that he can be a durable addition.

Buchholz pitched four scoreless innings, and Napoli played in consecutive games for first time this spring training and had a run-scoring single and a double, helping the Boston Red Sox over the Toronto Blue Jays 5-3 Tuesday.

“Everything is starting to fall together,” Buchholz said. “I was able to go out there and execute pitches, like one after another, a little bit better than the last time out and the time before that. I feel like it’s all coming together for the spring, getting up and down a little bit more and the next time when I go out it’ll be five innings. It’s starting to feel more real now.”

Napoli, diagnosed with avascular necrosis in both hips during his offseason contract negotiations with the Red Sox, is batting .429 (6 for 14) with two homers and six RBIs.

Buchholz earned the win, going four scoreless innings, giving up three hits with a strikeout. In his recent side work, the Red Sox have tried to improve Buchholz’s tempo.

“Better tempo once again, consistent with his last outing,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said.

Eight of the 12 outs Buchholz recorded were on groundballs, including a double play to end the third with runners on first and second.

“I think any time we see Clay putting the ball on the ground, he’s got a sinker, he’s got his late action pitches working down in the zone,” Farrell said. “And that was the case again today. Key double-play ball for him. And I think as we’ve seen his evolution as a starting pitcher, as he’s gone to that two-seamer, it really puts him in a good position to not only be efficient but when he needs to, get a groundball double play as the case was today.”

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