Nap time: Rangers, Napoli fi­nally re­united

Texarkana Gazette - - SPORTS -

SUR­PRISE, Ariz.—Mike Napoli's re­turn to Texas cer­tainly didn't come out of left field.

The slug­ger's long-an­tic­i­pated re­union with the Rangers , and a third stint with his first World Se­ries team, fi­nally be­came a re­al­ity Thurs­day when he was re-in­tro­duced after fi­nal­iz­ing an $8.5 mil­lion, one-year con­tract.

"This is ob­vi­ously a place I wanted to be," Napoli said. "I knew it was a great op­por­tu­nity to be able to come back here."

Napoli, who has played in three World Se­ries for three dif­fer­ent teams over the past six sea­sons, will be the pri­mary first base­man and pro­vide a needed big bat in the mid­dle of the Texas lineup.

In his first time with the Rangers in 2011 and 2012, Napoli was an All-Star catcher with some games at first base and des­ig­nated hit­ter. There was that ex­per­i­ment with 11 games in left field, a way to keep him in the lineup, when he re­joined them for the last two months of the 2015 sea­son.

"I've been for­tu­nate enough in my ca­reer to be on a lot of win­ning ball­clubs," Napoli said. "Com­ing back here is def­i­nitely some­thing that I saw was a chance to do that."

Napoli will get a $6 mil­lion salary this sea­son from the team that has won the AL West ti­tle the past two sea­sons. The agree­ment in­cludes an $11 mil­lion club op­tion for 2018 with a $2.5 mil­lion buy­out.

"No in­tro needed," Rangers gen­eral man­ager Jon Daniels said. "Ob­vi­ously a guy that has been part of some big mo­ments for the Rangers over the years here, and look­ing for­ward to some big mo­ments with him again, and glad to have him back."

In his first sea­son with Texas in 2011, Napoli hit .320 with 30

30 homers in 113 reg­u­lar-sea­son games and had 10 RBIs in the World Se­ries against St. Louis. He was the start­ing catcher for the AL All-Star team in 2012 be­fore go­ing to Bos­ton as a free agent and then that brief re­turn to Texas in 2015.

Napoli was part of Bos­ton's World Se­ries cham­pi­onship in in 2013 and helped the In­di­ans reach Game 7 in his only sea­son with Cleve­land last year, when he had ca­reer highs with 34 home runs and 101 RBIs.

When the In­di­ans signed free-agent slug­ger Ed­win En­car­na­cion to a $60 mil­lion, three-year deal in Jan­uary, an­other re­union with Texas be­came much more vi­able. The two sides had been talk­ing through­out the off­sea­son about the pos­si­bil­ity.

"An eter­nity," Daniels joked when Napoli was asked how long they had been talk­ing. "Born to be a Ranger."

The 35-year-old Napoli, go­ing into his 12th ma­jor league sea­son, is a .252 ca­reer hit­ter with the Los An­ge­les An­gels (2006-10), Texas (2011-12, 2015), Bos­ton (2013-15) and Cleve­land.

Man­ager Jeff Banis­ter plans for Napoli to be his ev­ery­day first base­man, with some games as the des­ig­nated hit­ter.

Mitch More­land won a Gold Glove as the Rangers' first base­man last sea­son. He be­came a free agent and agreed to a $5.5 mil­lion, one-year deal with Bos­ton.

De­spite only hav­ing Napoli for the end of the 2015 sea­son, Banis­ter saw the slug­ger's re­lent­less pur­suit of want­ing to win a World Se­ries.

"It was an ab­so­lute joy to be around him," Banis­ter said. "An­other part of the glue that puts to­gether, in my mind, when we start think­ing about a cham­pi­onship run."

Rangers right fielder Shin-Soo Choo, whose time to­gether with Napoli was also that short stint in 2015, said Thurs­day that Napoli is "prob­a­bly the top team­mate I've had had in my ca­reer.

"He al­ways plays hard. I en­joy watch­ing him play," Choo said. "I think espe­cially, young play­ers he'll help them a lot. ... He's got so much ex­pe­ri­ence, play­ing big games, he play in World Se­ries. He can teach young play­ers how to play at this level."

As­so­ci­ated Press

n Mike Napoli talks to the me­dia dur­ing a news con­fer­ence at spring train­ing base­ball prac­tice Thurs­day in Sur­prise, Ariz. The Rangers an­nounced that the club has signed free agent Napoli to a one-year con­tract.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.