CHICAGO -- Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli took ground balls at first base before Wednesday night's game against the Chicago White Sox, one day after dislocating the ring finger on his left hand on a headfirst slide into second base.
Napoli had shed the splint he was wearing after the finger was reset following the game, his ring finger and pinkie taped together. Daniel Nava was in the lineup, playing first base, the first game Napoli has missed this season.
"As soon as I got here, the lineup was already up,'' Napoli said. "I've got to be smart about it. If it was crunch time and I really had to go, I would have done anything to play. It's feeling better and better as I go. I'm going to play catch and see how it feels, see if I can get in there late on defense.
"I'm going to try gripping a bat, throw in the cage, take a few swings, see how it feels. If I'm not going to play, I might as well take the day.''
Second baseman Dustin Pedroia was back in the Red Sox lineup Wednesday. He had a cortisone injection for inflammation in his left wrist on Monday in Boston, which typically requires 24 to 48 hours to take full effect, but was inserted as a pinch runner when Napoli came out of the game. Sox manager John Farrell said the team felt it could use Pedroia as a runner and also play in the field.
The Sox had contingency plans to hit for Pedroia if his turn had come up in extra innings, Farrell said. The Red Sox lost, 2-1, with two outs in the bottom of the ninth on a throwing error by shortstop Xander Bogaerts.
"Pedey's always ready, man,'' Napoli said. "You know him, he was chomping at the bit. He didn't want to be on the bench. He's a terrible bench player, I'll tell you right now. Anxiety, running up and down the dugout. He just wants be in the game.''
Napoli's pregame work Wednesday suggested that he would be an option if Farrell chose to insert him for defensive purposes late in the game.
"I've got to say, going out to second base and seeing his ring finger with a hard left turn,'' Farrell said, "we're fortunate it's only a dislocation.''
Somewhat surprisingly, given that he has caught 539 games in his career, Napoli said this was the first time he has dislocated a finger.
"This is the first time I've ever done something like this,'' Napoli said. "Pretty lucky. I don't know how this is going to go because I've never done it before. But the way it was, the way it looked, it's better than expected.''
Napoli said he rarely slides headfirst. He also typically carries his batting gloves in one hand while running the bases to help him keep his hands up off the ground when he slides in feet first. But with temperatures in the 30's Tuesday night, Napoli said he kept the gloves on for warmth.
"It was so cold last night I kept them on,'' he said. "I never do that. I never slide headfirst. Just a reaction. Usually when I slide it's feet first, and I like to have something in hand to keep my hands up.''
Napoli said he thought about snapping his finger back in place and asked trainer Rick Jameyson if he would do so once he arrived on the scene. Jameyson told him the finger had to be X-rayed first. The White Sox team physician had to cut Napoli's batting glove off his hand.
"The weird thing was walking in [the clubhouse], saying, 'Will someone put this in place already?' It was just stuck. It wasn't moving. The doctor said, 'Can you take your glove off?' I said, 'Can I pull my [expletive] glove off?' They had to cut it off.''
More injury updates:
• Koji Uehara had a 34-pitch bullpen session that went well, Farrell said, and will be available out of the bullpen Thursday night.
• Shane Victorino was to have begun a rehab assignment in Double-A Portland, but the Seadogs' game was postponed. Portland does not have a game on Thursday, so Victorino's rehab assignment probably will begin Friday night in Pawtucket.
• Will Middlebrooks has only done straight-ahead running, and once he completes his running progression, Farrell said, he will begin a rehab assignment. That should be next week.