Found May 03, 2013 on
Fox Sports Southwest:
ARLINGTON, Texas Mike Napoli spent three fewer years with the Texas Rangers than Josh Hamilton did but his homecoming trip to Texas had a much different feel.
While Hamilton was booed lustily in his return to Texas in Arlington, the fan favorite Napoli was greeted by cheers, a partial standing ovation and even a "Napoli" chant when he returned Friday at first base for Boston.
It's just the way Napoli wanted it.
"I had two great years here, a lot of moments I'll never forget," said Napoli, who was struck out by Derek Holland in his first at-bat. "It's going to be fun. I'm happy to still be playing baseball. I'm going to enjoy it and take it all in."
It's understandable that Napoli came to Texas in an upbeat mood, given the year he's had with Boston. He came into Friday's game leading the American League in RBI with 31 and doubles with 15.
Those are numbers that didn't look like they would be attainable during an offseason in which his three year, 39-million deal with the Red Sox had to be renegotiated to a one-year pact for 5 million guaranteed because of concerns about Napoli's hips.
But Napoli, who had a chance to sign a two-year deal with Texas, has kept things simple with Boston and it's paid off for the first place Red Sox.
"It feels good," he said. "I'm playing some good baseball right now and I'm just going to try and maintain it. Just do the little things to help our ball club out any way I can. Just go out and play hard the way I always have."
After a strong first season with the Rangers in 2011, Napoli batted just .227 last year with 24 home runs and 56 RBI. He was limited to just 108 games by injuries and his numbers may have been hampered by the grind of trying to catch every day.
But with Boston this year, he's strictly a first baseman and designated hitter. It's been a nice change although he still said he misses catching some.
"Last year I never really felt like I do right now," he said. "I'm trying to keep it as simple as possible. I've got keys I work on in the cage. Just go out there and try to keep it the same."
Napoli spent time Friday visiting with his old teammates and signing autographs for some of his still-adoring fans at Rangers Ballpark.
The Rangers are hoping to hold him in check in this series and aren't surprised with the kind of start he's had with Boston.
"Right now he's swinging the bat well," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "It's nothing new that I haven't seen before. He's healthy. When he was healthy here he was tremendous. Last year he fought a lot of injuries and just could never find it."
As for the warm reception Napoli received, that didn't come as a shock to the Rangers either.
"He was a pro while he was here," second baseman Ian Kinsler said.
Napoli also believes his two years in Texas helped set him up for the kind of success he's had with Boston.
"They were important," he said. "I came over here (Texas) and just how it was in the clubhouse, my personality I could really show in the clubhouse and get out here and be myself, be the player I could be. Not taking away from Anaheim, it was different over there than it was over here in Texas. It was awesome for me."
BEST OF MAXIM
Via @ESPNStatsInfo comes this fun nugget: Mike Napoli hit two 460+-foot bombs last night and was the first player to do so in eight years. Or maybe they just haven't looked at data beyond 2004. OK, the tweet is pretty vague and I'm not finding any info online.
But look: They even made a nice graph of it!
In case you missed them, videos via MLB.com:
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Mike Napoli played a major role as the Texas Rangers won an AL championship in 2011 and appeared in the playoffs in each of his two seasons. When he sought a multiyear deal in free agency, though, the team wasn't prepared to commit given his injury history.
The Boston Red Sox took a chance on him, and that risk has paid off so far.
Napoli faces his former team for the first...
Mike Napoli has a lot of great memories of his two seasons with the Texas Rangers, including his first World Series.
Now he's back, playing first base for the Boston Red Sox at Rangers Ballpark.
Napoli says it's not ''too weird'' to be back in Texas and that he looks to competing against his good friends.
After 54 homers the last two seasons for Texas,...
Mike Napoli, Boston Red Sox’s power-slugging first baseman, hit two tape measure shots during his team’s 10-1 thrashing of the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on Wednesday. The Red Sox as a team belted out five round-trippers during the lopsided laugher, but the two moon shots Napoli unleashed were by far the most impressive.
The first homer, in the 4th inning of Mark Buehrle...
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Clay Buchholz threw seven shutout innings and Mike Napoli blasted two of the Boston Red Sox five home runs on the night in a 10-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on Wednesday night.
Mike Napoli isn’t the only former Texas Ranger to make the move up to Boston this season. Reliever Koji Uehara also called Arlington home last year, and the 38-year-old right-hander has made quite the impression on Red Sox fans during his short tenure with the team.
Through his 13 appearances, Uehara holds a 1.54 ERA and has struck out 14 over 11 2/3 innings. He’s also become...
Boston’s boomsticks were out Wednesday night and provided the Red Sox (19-8) an opportunity to get their seventh series win in nine tries to start 2013. Mike Napoli crushed two home runs (the Sox had five total) and Clay Buchholz (6-0, 1.01 ERA) became the first pitcher in MLB to reach six wins this season, as the Sox pounded the Blue Jays 10...
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Clay Buchholz pitched seven shutout innings to earn his major league-leading sixth win, Mike Napoli hit two of Boston's five home runs and the Red Sox routed the Toronto Blue Jays 10-1 on Wednesday night.
Stephen Drew hit a two-run shot in the second inning and Napoli went back-to-back with Daniel Nava in the fourth as the Red Sox won their majors-best 19th game and improved...
Thanks to the Garfoose we now must all watch the BoSox even more intently to see what substance Clay Buchholz may or may not have on his arm. Also, more Mike Napoli moonshots, please.
On the way to another excellent season, Carlos Gonzalez hit .222 last August. You may not have noticed because it was hidden by his earlier numbers.
Josh Hamilton hit .204 this April. You definitely noticed.
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There is a lot wrong with the LA Angels. Instead of being the World Series contender many thought they would be, the Halos have struggled to a 10-17 record and are already on the verge of having to declare 2013 a lost season. The problem that gets the most attention is Josh Hamilton. While he is having a miserable season, he attracts the attention simply based on brand name recognition...