KANSAS CITY -- With left-hander Bruce Chen on the mound for the Royals, the opportunity arose for Red Sox manager John Farrell to give veteran David Ortiz a night off.
Farrell went with Jonny Gomes in the cleanup slot and Stephen Drew hitting fifth on Thursday night at Kauffman Stadium. Mike Napoli was in the No. 6 slot as the designated hitter.
"We're just trying to take advantage of the momentum that Gomes and Drew have had of late," Farrell said.
Farrell talked with Napoli after batting practice on Wednesday in Houston, and lineup alterations were discussed. Napoli opened Thursday's game having hit just .200 since July 20.
"He's on board with all of it," Farrell said. "That's why he's in the No. 6 hole today. We've got guys who are good players to go to. The depth of the bench allows us to do some things. To Mike's credit, it's about whatever we have to do to win tonight. He's the ultimate team player. Mike and I both recognize that he is going through a stretch here where he has been grinding. Hopefully, moving him out a slot gives him a little breather."
Farrell stressed that the night off for Ortiz was not injury related.
"It's just a day for him," Farrell said. "He's in a good place overall physically. We probably expected him to have more off-days up to now. So, we're clearly in positive territory with David."
Buchholz set to throw off mound Friday
KANSAS CITY -- Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz took another positive step on Thursday as he recovers from the neck strain that forced him to the disabled list.
"He threw off flat ground and aggressively from 90 feet," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "It's probably the most aggressive he has been from 90 feet. Tomorrow he'll be back on the mound. So, he is making steady progress."
Buchholz was 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA through 12 starts.
Nava returns from paternity leave
KANSAS CITY -- Daniel Nava came off paternity leave to rejoin the Red Sox on Thursday, and manager John Farrell wasted no time in getting Nava back into the lineup.
Nava drew the start at first base for the opener of the Kansas City series while hitting seventh. To make room for Nava, the Red Sox optioned right-hander Steven Wright to Triple-A Pawtucket. Wright had been 2-0 for Boston with a 5.40 ERA in four games.
Nava's wife, Rachel, gave birth to daughter Faith on Monday morning.
"She did great and the baby's healthy," Nava said.
Nava can relate to the recent decision of professional golfer Hunter Mahan, who chose to leave a tournament he was leading in order to get home for the birth of a child.
"The birth of your child is something you don't want to miss," Nava said. "You have a lot of respect for someone who leaves a tournament like that when he's ahead. You can get another chance to play, but you only have one chance to be there for the birth of that child."
Nava rejoined the Red Sox having hit .282 with 10 homers and 53 RBIs through 333 at-bats.
"He has been a major contributor all year," Farrell said. "He has put up a lot of good at-bats. He had three days to welcome his daughter into the world and he's back with us now."
Robert Falkoff is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.