It’s been a series of adjustments for Mike Napoli this spring. A new team, a new position, and a schedule that is designed to accommodate the recent diagnosis of avascular necrosis in both hips.
“It’s been a lot easier than previous springs, that’s for sure,” Napoli said with a smile after Wednesday’s workout.
Yes, the former catcher acknowledges that catchers work hard.
“Absolutely, 100 percent,” he said. “I don’t know if it's harder, but they definitely have a lot more to do and have longer days, just working with the pitchers and all their stuff they have to do.”
When he sees the catchers working as a group, he’ll make sure to catch someone’s eye.
“I always give [David] Ross a little smirk-smile, that I know what you’re going through,” Napoli said. “And he definitely understands what I’m laughing at and smirking at, of course. It’s kind of funny, I miss the position, but it is what it is. This is what I have to do now, and I’m just happy that I still have the opportunity to play the game.”
And he knows he has his work cut out for him playing first base. Of his 672 defensive games over his seven-season career, he’s played just 133 games, with 118 starts, at first base.
“I’ve kind of accepted this, that I’m not going to be catching,” he said. “But, then again, I want to be the best I can at first base. So I’ve been working hard at it. It’s been fun so far.”
In the past few days, Napoli would go through the regular workout with the team and then work with coach Brian Butterfield, taking about 100 groundballs at first base. He got a day off from his extra work on Wednesday.
“They gave me a little blow today, just to get my legs back under me,” he said. “But yeah, I told them I want to work as much as possible out there, if it’s possible. But with the medical thing, they just want me to take it slow with how long spring training is. So, whatever they say, I’ll do.”
More worry, but less work, for no-longer-catching Napoli
CSN New England | Feb 21