Placing Napoli on the DL allowed the Red Sox to keep reliever Alex Wilson, who had been expected to return to Pawtucket to create a roster spot for right-hander Brandon Workman, who is starting Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays. Workman is making the start in place of left-hander Felix Doubront, who is on the DL with a strained left shoulder.
Napoli has tried to play with a dislocated left ring finger, the injury resulting from a head-first slide into second base in Chicago on April 15, but the finger has not had sufficient time to heal. His production, therefore, has suffered. With Napoli also missing two games last week with flu-like symptoms that have lingered, as well as dealing with hamstring and calf pain, Red Sox manager John Farrell had hoped to give him a few days to recover but circumstances dictated Sunday's move.
"Mike was still a few days away," Farrell said. "We wanted to give him ample time with the finger, but given the situation and the need for an added arm, we felt like we had to make the move to put Mike on the DL.
"Hopefully this gives him that extended period of time to get past this in its entirety, or at least to try and get further ahead of it."
The Red Sox could have made their corresponding move with a backup infielder -- either Brock Holt or Jonathan Herrera -- but Farrell said that the club ruled that out after Xander Bogaerts came out of Saturday's game in the 11th inning with a cramp in his right hamstring. Bogaerts has recovered and is in Sunday's lineup against the Rays.
"We needed to keep the backup infielder with Xander coming out," Farrell said.
David Ortiz, who was given a planned day off Saturday to deal with a lingering calf issue, also was back in the lineup Sunday and will play first base when the Red Sox visit Atlanta for two interleague games against the Braves beginning Monday, Farrell said.
Napoli hasn't been the same hitter since dislocating his finger. He has continued to draw his share of walks -- 24, which match the number of hits he has in that span -- but he's homered just twice and driven in 13 runs over the same stretch.
"It's impacted [him]," Farrell said before Saturday's loss. "To what extent, it's hard to say, but ever since the injury it's pretty clear. He's not one to make excuses, but at the same time coming off the flu and everything he's dealing with, he needs at least a couple more days. This isn't a one-day thing; we're hopeful it's not 15."