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WEEI » This Just In » Napoli: 'Not saying I have to be a catcher'
Tue, 11/13/2012 - 1:46pm  

Napoli: 'Not saying I have to be a catcher'

Free-agent Mike Napoli told ESPNDallas.com that, while he considers himself a catcher, he's taking an open-minded approach while discussing potential fits with "a bunch of teams." The Red Sox, for instance, likely would be interested in Napoli primarily as a first baseman and an alternative to David Ortiz at DH. Napoli left the door open to any positional demands. 

"I just want to play," Napoli told the website. "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, 31, hit .227 with a .343 OBP, .469 slugging mark and 24 homers in 108 games. He said that the struggles reflected in no small part a season during which he dealt with a number of injuries, including a quadriceps injury that sidelined him for roughly five weeks between August and September. 

"Obviously, I didn't have the year I wanted to," Napoli said. "But I feel like I'm a better average hitter than that. My career numbers show that. I had a rough year averagewise 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."

Though the Sox agreed with catcher David Ross to a two-year deal on Saturday, the team remains interested in Napoli as a player who has enjoyed tremendous offensive success at Fenway and who offers considerable power and a grinding approach at the plate. For more on that, click here for Rob Bradford's story. For complete Red Sox coverage, visit weei.com/redsox.




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