ARLINGTON -- A.J. Pierzynski and Mike Napoli returned to Arlington on Friday with fond memories of their time in Texas.
For Pierzynski, it marked the first time he'd played in a road uniform in Arlington since his one-year stint with the Rangers in 2013.
"It's fun to come back here," said Pierzynski, who hit .272 with 17 homers and 70 RBIs before signing a one-year, $8.25 million contract with the Red Sox. "I had a good time here the year I was here and became friends with a bunch of the guys."
Napoli spent last season with Boston after two seasons in Texas, where he was beloved by fans who began chanting his name every time he came to the plate during the Rangers' first run to the World Series.
The chanting continued throughout 2012 -- and in 2013 when he made his first trip back as a member of the Red Sox. Napoli will probably hear the chants as long as he keeps coming back to Globe Life Park.
"It means a lot to me," Napoli said. "I definitely enjoyed my time here. When I played here, I gave it my all and we got to go to the World Series and have winning ballclubs. The people in that clubhouse, my teammates, the front office, everybody -- it was a great two years for me. ... It's cool. I guess I've got a strong bond with the fans."
Both players have experience catching Friday's Rangers starter, Yu Darvish. Pierzynski caught 17 of Darvish's starts last season, while Napoli caught Darvish 10 times in 2012.
Red Sox rotation stays regular as clockwork
ARLINGTON -- With Clay Buchholz's start Friday, the Red Sox are the only team in the American League that has gotten seven starts from all five starters. They're also one of only two AL teams, with the Angels, that have kept their rotation intact thus far, using only five starting pitchers. And they entered Friday third in the league in starters' innings pitched with 205 2/3.
Manager John Farrell said the rotation's reliability should pay dividends as the summer unfolds.
"If you look at any team that's sustaining success or has an opportunity to work deep into the season in a positive way, the rotation's going to be something that you're going to point to," Farrell said. "It's a testament to their abilities, particularly their work ethic, the rotation and the program that our medical staff has in place for them. We monitor their work closely and we also recognize that pitching is a game of attrition. We spend a lot of time and resources making sure that they're healthy and we keep them healthy."
The Red Sox were third in the AL in starters' innings pitched during their championship run last season.
Farrell: Pedroia is 'the guy for us' at leadoff
ARLINGTON -- Dustin Pedroia was in the leadoff spot in the Red Sox lineup for the 13th consecutive game Friday, and there are no indications that manager John Farrell will waver from that arrangement anytime soon.
Pedroia hit .288/.383/.423 during the past 12 games in the top spot, after hitting .281/.326/.382 in 20 starts prior to becoming the everyday leadoff man.
"Considering that he's getting on base seemingly a couple times a night, he's set the table for us," Farrell said. "Given the personnel we have, he's the one true legitimate candidate among the group to not only get on base, but to do some things, to set the table for not only [Shane Victorino] behind him, but certainly David [Ortiz] and Mike [Napoli]. Where we are, he's the guy for us."
Farrell said Pedroia didn't "mention any reservations" when the manager asked him to hit leadoff.
"I just asked if he was open to it," Farrell said. "Dustin's all about what we are as a team and doing whatever he can to best suit our needs and to impact the game in a positive way. He's the ultimate unselfish player. Given our need, he was more than open to do it. There was no time limitation on this. We're going to put the best combination of personnel that we have available to us on the field."
For his career, Pedroia has started 612 games in the No. 2 hole and 229 hitting third. Friday's start was his 103rd at leadoff.
Mujica back after missing week with oblique injury
ARLINGTON -- Manager John Farrell said reliever Edward Mujica was "cleared and ready to go" Friday after missing a week of action with a right oblique injury. But Farrell said he will be judicious about when to use the right-hander because of his struggles this season; he has a 9.00 ERA over 11 appearances.
Mujica's return to action will be in a low-leverage situation, if Farrell has his way, and the manager said the team has worked on some issues with Mujica's delivery.
"I think he just presented the ball early in his delivery to the hitter," Farrell said. "They were able to track it early in the flight towards home plate. So we're trying to do some things to maybe add a little deception or keep him on line a little bit more consistently."
Mujica signed a two-year, $9.5 million deal with Boston during the offseason. He has compiled a 3.87 ERA in nine seasons with five teams. Last year, he was 2-1 with a 2.78 ERA in 65 games with St. Louis.
• The Red Sox are coming off their first winning homestand of the season after going 5-3 at Fenway Park.
• Before Wednesday, when they evened their record to 17-17, the Red Sox had lost eight consecutive games in which they had a chance to return to .500.
• Two of Boston's three starting pitchers in the Texas series hail from the Lone Star State: Clay Buchholz, from Lumberton, and John Lackey, an Abilene native. Lackey's start Sunday will be his 20th at Globe Life Park, the most by any visitor (Seattle's Felix Hernandez has 19).
Dave Sessions is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.