CHICAGO — All things considered, the Red Sox caught a break after first baseman Mike Napoli grotesquely dislocated the ring finger on his left hand Tuesday night.
Napoli injured the finger diving headfirst into second base in the top of the ninth inning of a tied game against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. Closeups from the television broadcast showed the bent finger and Napoli in a lot of pain after taking an extra base on a wild pitch.
The initial fear was a broken bone, but X-rays taken immediately after Napoli left the field showed no fractures. The finger was reset and Napoli, who didn’t play Wednesday, is considered day-to-day.
“He’s sore today and we’ll find out after he goes through stretch and puts a glove on his hand if he’s available defensively,” manager John Farrell said before Boston’s 6-4 win in 14 innings on Wednesday. “But I’ve got to say that going out to second base (Tuesday) night and seeing his ring finger with a hard left turn, we’re fortunate that it was only a dislocation.”
Napoli said he rarely slides headfirst because of the risk for such an injury to his hands, but he got caught up in the play. After seeing the ball hit the dirt after it was pitched, he took off for second instinctively.
“It was just a reaction play from me,” Napoli said. “Usually I have my gloves, holding them in my hands when I run, but it was just so cold. I was trying to keep my hands from being cold. It was just a freak thing.”
If he needs to miss just a few days, it will be a big relief for the injury-laden Red Sox, who have three players on the 15-day disabled list and two others working through some aches and pains without being on the DL.
Boston got second baseman Dustin Pedroia back Wednesday from a two-game absence for inflammation in his left wrist, and Farrell expected to have closer Koji Uehara available in the series finale Thursday. He hasn’t thrown since April 9 because of shoulder stiffness.
Napoli said if the stakes were bigger than an early regular-season game, he might’ve lobbied harder to play. In the meantime, he’ll take a more conservative approach. His .302 batting average, three home runs and nine RBIs will be missed, but the hope is that Napoli won’t be out long.
“I don’t really know how this is going to go,” Napoli said. “I can’t tell you. I’ve never done it before. I can tell you from the way it was and the way it looked, it’s a lot better than what I expected. I’d jammed my fingers before, but I’d never dislocated it to the point where it was sideways.”