Napoli says first homer 'feels good'

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- This is how Ryan Dempster gauged the distance of Mike Napoli’s home run Sunday against the Yankees.

“I thought it was awesome, eight pitches later, when the section of fans started clapping,’’ the Red Sox pitcher said. “We figured that’s when it landed.

“That ball was hit. It was hit a long way. If you’re going to give one up, I guess don’t be a wall scraper.’’

Napoli’s home run, which came leading off the second inning, easily cleared the center-field wall, just to the left of the 420-foot sign. It was his first home run of the spring and came off right-hander Adam Warren, who figures to open the season in Triple-A. Napoli’s dad was in the stands, having made the drive over from his home on the other side of the state, near Fort Lauderdale.

“I got a pitch I can drive,’’ Napoli said. “I tried to put a good swing on it and hit it pretty well. That was a nice one. It feels good, my timing feels good. You work, you do your BPs, and it’s nice when it carries over to the game.’’

Maybe when he was younger, Napoli said, getting the first home run out of the way early would have meant more.

“Sometimes you go a long time in spring training and say, ‘Man, where’s my power at?’’’ he said. “I’ve always felt that I do have power and it’ll come eventually. It feels good to get one, but it’s just one. I’ve still got some things to work on.’’

Napoli played in his first game here Friday night and is on an every-other-day game schedule. He said he had some soreness Saturday, but it was “good soreness,” and did not keep him from working out.

After a winter of talking about hips and contracts and such, Napoli was asked if it was refreshing to be answering questions about a home run.

“I’ve never felt anything in my hips,’’ he said. “I’m not even thinking about it on the field. I’m just thinking about the game. It’s nice to show people who don’t really understand the situation that everything’s all right, we’re moving forward.

“I feel great. It’s not a question for me. I guess it shows people I can still play the game.’’