Mike Napoli agrees to deal with Red Sox
Free agent Mike Napoli agreed to a deal Monday with the Boston Red Sox for three years and $39 million, pending his physical exam.
Napoli has mainly played catcher throughout his career, but he is expected to play first base for the Red Sox since Boston already has an overabundance of catchers. Looking at Napoli’s background, he has never played at first base for more than 70 games, and that is only because Kendrys Morales had a freak accident and fractured his leg.
He caught 72 games for the Texas Rangers this past season.
“I just want to play,” Napoli recently told ESPNDallas.com. “I feel the most comfortable behind the plate because that’s where most of my reps have been. Do I think I can be good at first base if I had reps and practiced it all the time? Yes. But it’s not like I’m saying I have to be a catcher. I just want to be in the lineup and play. If it helps at catcher, I’ll catch, or at first base, I’ll play there. But I like catching. I look at myself as catcher.”
Napoli will also strive to be a strong right-handed batter for the Sox. His batting average for 2012 was .227, with 24 home runs, 56 RBIs and 53 runs. That total way down from his 2011 batting average of .344, and the Red Sox are certainly hoping his numbers in 2012 were an aberration.
“Obviously, I didn’t have the year I wanted to,” Napoli told ESPNDallas.com. “But I feel like I’m a better average hitter than that. My career numbers show that. I had a rough year average-wise and hitting with runners in scoring position (.245), and I struck out more than past years. It was a weird year for me, mentally and physically. I battled injuries all year.”
Napoli’s career numbers at Fenway Park help explain why the Red Sox want to sign him. At Fenway he is 19-for-62 with 7 homers and 4 doubles in 74 plate appearances. His batting average at Fenway is .306.