Mike Napoli Officially Joins Red Sox, Says He’ll Be Ready For Opening Day
BOSTON (CBS) — It took nearly two months, but the Boston Red Sox finally have Mike Napoli on their roster.
After initially agreeing to a three-year, $39 million deal in early December, the team was concerns with a hip issue that was discovered in a physical, and the two sides finally came to a new agreement on a one-year deal on Tuesday. The deal is reportedly worth $5 million with incentives that can increase the value to as high as $13 million.
Napoli revealed during Tuesday’s conference call that his hip condition is known as avascular necrosis, but that he’s not feeling any symptoms from it and that he fully expects to be fine and ready to start the season.
“I played with it last year, and there’ s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to be there on opening day and be a starter on opening day,” Napoli said.
Napoli admitted that the past two months have not been ideal, but he expressed no frustration with the way the Red Sox and his camp handled the situation.
“Obviously it was a pretty tough offseason, but I think we got it figured out,” Napoli said. “We’re moving in the right direction. I feel like we got that behind us and we’re ready to go.”
Napoli, 31, is coming off an All-Star season with Texas, when he hit 24 home runs in 108 games. The best season of his career came in 2011, when he batted .320 with 30 homers, 25 doubles and a 1.046 OPS, all single-season career highs.
He’ll be making a defensive change, though, as general manager Ben Cherington said that Napoli is slotted to be the team’s primary first baseman. He’s started just 118 games at first while starting 485 career games behind the plate. While it’ll be an adjustment, Napoli said he expects his new position to keep his body fresh throughout the long season.
“I definitely feel comfortable over there,” Napoli said of first base. “I feel like the more reps I get over there, the better I can be. It’s definitely going to be a lot easier on my body being at first base, physically and mentally. I’m confident that I can stay healthy all year just being at first base.”
Napoli appeared to make sense for the Red Sox, given his outstanding numbers at Fenway Park. In 19 career games in Boston, he’s hit .306 with seven homers, 17 RBIs and a 1.107 OPS.
“I can’t really put my finger on it, but I enjoy the atmosphere,” Napoli said of his Boston success. “The fans are in the game and they know when to cheer and they really know the game of baseball. It’s a fun place for me to come play. Obviously I like hitting there — short porch to left field — and I feel real comfortable hitting there.”
Napoli made $9.4 million last season with the Rangers. He’ll wear No. 12 with the Red Sox.