Napoli Arrives At Camp, Talks Hip, Future At 1B

Photo via Twitter/ @TimBritton

Mike Napoli arrived for the first day of Red Sox training camp in Fort Myers, and hit the field right away, playing a game of catch with pitcher John Lackey.

After warming up, Napoli spoke to the media about the diagnosis of Avascular necrosis (AVN), the condition that left his contract with the Red Sox up in the air for most of the off-season, after agreeing to terms for a three-year deal worth $39 million back on December 3rd. Napoli said that until the physical he had before his original contract was official, he had no idea that he even had the condition.

“I don’t have any symptoms,” he said. “I went through a physical and they checked out my hip and they found I had AVN. It’s something I don’t feel. I’m on medicine now. I have an MRI coming up to see how everything is and just go from there. Just take it day by day and see what happens. I’ve been hitting, throwing, doing everything, working out. I was doing everything before I found out I had it. We took a little step back, staying off impact for a while, see what that does and just go from there.”

When he was asked if he had thought someone else would sign him during the 51 days that his contract was in limbo, Napoli said, “we never really squashed anything. They always expressed they want me here. We never lost contact. We just had to figure out what the problem was and what was going on in my hips. It never [entered] my mind I wasn’t going to be here.

“From Day 1 with the three-year contract I was happy to be here. Everything worked out. We got it figured out and we’ll go from there.”

Napoli did admit that it was tough not knowing what was wrong with him, “I was just trying to figure out what was wrong,” he said. “I had to see a bunch of doctors, flying all over the country, getting different opinions. The first thing was to see where my health was and what I could do.”

While the diagnosis put a dent in things, Napoli never thought he’d sign with a team other than the Red Sox, “when we figured that out we were able to talk to teams again and it came down to signing here.”

Napoli, who’s worked both as a catcher as well as a first baseman, will only be training at first base during camp, and already has played in 133 major league games at the position, but if push came to shove, it sounds like Napoli wouldn’t mind doing some catching again.

“I’ve been out there before. I’m comfortable,” Napoli said about playing first base. “It’s not like I’m out there on an island, or anything. I’ll go out there and I’ll work at it and try to make myself better every day. I’m excited. It will be a lot more taking stress off my body being over there then behind the plate. We’ll see what happens. Hopefully this hip thing goes away and I’ll be able to get behind the plate. For now we’re going to worry about playing first base and go from there.

“You go out there and take ground balls, but it’s always easier being in the same position all the time. You just have to work at it, take your ground balls and get better at it.”

Napoli arrived at camp after driving from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and was carrying an old Texas Rangers equipment bag this morning. Here’s to hoping someone springs for a Red Sox-branded bag for him before day’s end.
Photo via Twitter/ @TimBritton

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