“Thank you for your patience.”
That greeting, which opened the conference call to announce the signing of first baseman Mike Napoli, couldn’t have been more apt. After all, a span of 51 days elapsed between Napoli’s agreement to a three-year, $39 million deal with the Red Sox on Dec. 3 and the official announcement of his one-year, $5 million deal with the Sox on Tuesday.
The seven-plus weeks were head-spinning. When Napoli arrived in Boston for a physical on Dec. 10, he expected the procedure to be routine. Certainly, he had no way of knowing that an MRI on his hips — regions that had never hindered him, and that had come up clean as recently as his physical with the Rangers last March — would lead to a renegotiation, a host of medical consultations and the ultimate revelation that he has avascular necrosis (AVN) in both hips, a degenerative condition in which a lack of blood flow to the region creates the potential for arthritis or even the destruction of the hip joint.
“I didn’t know I had it. It was definitely a shock to me,” said Napoli. “I’m able to put things behind me, and there’s nothing I can really do about that. I put it behind me, and I’m going to do whatever I can to keep myself healthy and move forward. I’m just going to have to deal with it and put it behind me and try to do the best I can to keep myself on the field and help us win in any way.”
AVN ultimately can present severe risks. For instance, the career of former baseball/football superstar Bo Jackson was brought to a halt by AVN after his leg was pulled out of the hip socket during a tackle in a football game. Jackson eventually required hip replacement surgery, and while he was able to play parts of three seasons for the White Sox and Angels from 1991-94, his ascent to superstar status was over. His football career ended immediately.
Still, Napoli and his agent, Brian Grieper, suggested that at this stage of the condition, it should not be an impediment to his ability to stay on the field. Given that an MRI of the hips 10 months ago did not reveal evidence of AVN, that the catcher was asymptomatic during the season and even the offseason (he has been unhindered in his offseason workouts) and that Napoli is now being treated by Dr. Joseph Lane of the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York (and receiving medication intended to slow the progress of the condition), both had an optimistic outlook while discussing the now-official one-year, $5 million deal with the Red Sox that includes incentives that could increase Napoli’s earnings to $13 million in 2013.
“As of now, I don’t have any symptoms from it. I’m on medication to help me get through it,” said Napoli. “I played with it last year and there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to be there Opening Day and be a starter Opening Day.”
“This was caught at a very early stage,” noted Grieper. “Like Mike said, he hasn’t had any symptoms from this whatsoever. The first time we were made aware of it was on the physical with the Boston Red Sox. At some point, like Mike said earlier, he played with it. No symptoms whatsoever. Obviously finished the year healthy, productive and, as he is right now, working out four days a week, getting ready for spring training, getting ready for API, hitting, throwing, getting ready for all the things for camp.”
Sox GM Ben Cherington suggested that the Sox expect Napoli will be able to serve as their regular first baseman in 2013. While the team’s long-term concerns are obvious — as evidenced by the decision to move from a one- to a three-year deal — the fact remains that the Sox viewed Napoli as the answer to their need for a legitimate middle-of-the-order bat from first base in the coming season.
“We don’t have a lot of concern about 2013,” said Cherington. “When it comes to health, none of us can be 100 percent in our predictions. These are human beings, and when any player is on the field, injuries can happen. We want to stay away from predictions, but there’s no reason Mike Napoli won’t be our primary first baseman in 2013. That’s what we’re counting on. There’s no reason that won’t happen starting Opening Day.
“I think it’s very important to note that, although this condition is less common in baseball players than some other issues, from all the information that’s been gathered, particularly by Brian and Mike, this has been caught very early. We’re a long ways from Bo Jackson, and Bo Jackson’s circumstance was entirely different, from what we understand. From all the information we have, there’s a very good prognosis and no reason to think Mike won’t be a huge part of our 2013 team.”
The team’s confidence in that outcome is bolstered by the fact that Napoli will be a full-time first baseman for the Sox, rather than remaining in his past role as a player who spent the majority of his time in the big leagues as a catcher. That will entail something of a transition — Napoli has played just 133 of his 727 big league games at first base, all in the last three years — but Napoli suggests he’s ready for the position adjustment.
“I definitely feel comfortable over there,” said Napoli. “I feel like the more reps I get over there, the better I can be. It’s definitely going to be a lot easier on my body, being at first base, physically, mentally. I’m confident I can stay healthy all year just being at first base.”
And he is confident and comfortable with the notion that his performance at that position will be with the Red Sox. Once his physical revealed AVN and the Sox re-opened negotiations with Napoli and Grieper, he was classified as a free agent who could negotiate with other teams. There were offers from other teams, but in the end, Napoli felt like he wanted to move forward with the team with whom he’d originally come to an agreement.
“He’s a very loyal person. The Red Sox continued to keep the door open, and Mike in turn made a decision that he wanted to remain with the Red Sox even though he was a free agent,” said Greiper. “There were other teams that were interested. There certainly were possibilities and attractive opportunities out there. We certainly did seek those opportunities as they came to us, but at the end of the day, Mike’s made a decision that he wanted to be with the Boston Red Sox and be their first baseman.”
Though it took almost two months from the time of the initial agreement for the Sox and Napoli to finalize the ultimate shape of the deal to bring the 31-year-old to Boston, the Sox are excited about the outcome. In his career, Napoli has hit .259 with a .356 OBP, .507 slugging mark, .863 OPS and an average of 33 homers per 162 games.
At Fenway, he’s produced one of the most outrageous stat lines of any opponent in the park’s 100-year history. In 19 games in Boston, he’s hit .306/.397/.710/1.197 with seven homers. He leads all active players in OPS at Fenway, and his .710 slugging mark is third all time among players at Fenway (min. 70 plate appearances).
And so, if he is indeed healthy for 2013, the Sox feel that he is a player who can offer a considerable impact on the lineup.
“Mike was a primary target of ours from the outset of the offseason. Mike is a hitter who has always done a lot of things that we value,” said Cherington. “He sees pitches, he gets on base, hits for power, he’s got a great swing for Fenway Park, a great history of performance at Fenway Park. He’s also known as a terrific teammate. Accountable, tough player. And at the same time, as everyone knows, we had a desire to add offense, particularly at first base, from the outset of the offseason and we’re very happy to bring Mike on board and expect him to be our primary first baseman in 2013.”
In the end, for the Sox, it was an outcome that was worth the wait.
Pete talks with The Senator, Phil Perry about the Patriots trading for Dwayne Allen, ruling out a return to New England for Martellus Bennett. They also talk about the potential future of Patriots backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo and some of the big names in NFL free agency
Pete, Thornton and Price give their final thoughts and predictions for the Super Bowl.
Gabe calls the boys to handicap one of the biggest gambling days of the year - Super Bowl 51! Gabe has all the point spread info down and gets to all of the major prop bets that interest him.
Kirk, Gerry, and Alex Reimer discuss whether or not Isaiah Thomas will win a title in Boston.
Gerry, Kirk, and Trenni react to the Celtics loss against the Suns.
The NBA trade rumor mill is beginning to swirl as the deadline approaches and Picard is ready to go! He talks about the possibility of Jimmy Butler coming to Boston, why Isaiah Thomas is not getting enough respect and the future of the Celtics.
Rob Bradford is joined by Drew Pomeranz, the Red Sox pitcher who so many are wondering if he will be able to live up the value placed on him by the Red Sox when trading away top pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza last July. Pomeranz goes into detail regarding his injury last season, the stem cell treatment he underwent in the offseason, and how he thinks things stand heading into the 2017 campaign.
Rob Bradford is joined by Tom Caron, the man responsible for guiding the ship when it comes to Red Sox pregame and postgame shows, along with various other important duties with the New England Sports Network, including offering the play-by-play for both TV and radio throughout spring training. Tom and Rob discuss a variety of topics, such as nickname conundrums, radio vs. television, criticizing the team, behind-the-scenes for the broadcasts and where the industry is going.
Rob Bradford is joined by two-time All-Star outfielder Carlos Quentin, who is attempting a comeback with the Red Sox this spring. Quentin's path back to baseball involves almost quitting the game less than a year ago, losing 40 pounds and trying to sell himself to general managers all over Major League Baseball. Quentin explains his journey, which has led him to the back fields at JetBlue Park.
Hour 4. After Kraft’s comments at the owners meeting, the guys discuss how long Brady will play for. Gerry hates Lavar Ball. Reimer had a crazy time in Germany.
Hour 3. Kirk announces the K&C trip to Washington, D.C. Alex continues his battle against Kirk and Gerry on the Iowa State terrorist assignment. Kirk is sick of sporty promos.
Hour 2. Kirk responds to Keefe’s shot at him. Alex says America is to blame for 9/11 in Headlines. Alex says the U.S. should let as many people in as possible.
HOUR 4 - In the final hour of the show, we put a bow on the LeBron James "injury" from Monday night, take a call from a listener who is sick of "show-on-show" drama, play Kirk ripping Keefe in it's entirety, and expose Chad Finn for being a 98.5 fanboy who wouldn't address Pete Abe in his Friday chat.
HOUR 3 - In hour 3, the guys discuss a column by Dan Graziano and another by Bomani Jones about WHY Colin Kaepernick is "blackballed" by the NFL. Graziano reports that Kaepernick is seeking "$9-10M per year" which is roughly what a bottom-end starting QB would get paid. They also get into the Raiders moving to Vegas, and some potential problems that could arise.
HOUR 2 - In hour 2, we play Robert Kraft's nauseating interview with "First Take" and point out that Max Kellerman pusses out after being highly critical of Tom Brady over the past few years. The guys also get into some of Robert Kraft's comments from Monday, where Kraft said that Brady told him he'd like to play for 6-7 more years.
We finish the show with the best sound of the day.
Holley and Keefe discuss Tom Brady's future and if it's possible to see Brady playing for 6-7 more years.
Dale, Holley, and Keefe discuss the Hernandez trial and then address Malcolm Butler and the Patriot off season decisions.
Kirk Minihane, future radio hall of famer, sits down with current radio hall of famer Howie Carr. Kirk and Howie talk about Howie's latest book Kennedy Babylon. If you like famous people engaging in sex scandals, hard drug taking, and murder this is the podcast for you. Its a fascinating look at Boston's most famous family and the problems that took the family down.
Kirk Minihane, host and overlord of the morning show, brings Gerry Callahan and producers Chris and Ken into the studio to hear his show proposal. Kirk is thinking about making some changes to the morning show and wants to hear his crew's opinion.
SI's Richard Deitsch returns to the podcast to talk with Kirk about the K&C casting couch, how ESPN wimps out when they are called out for slander, what's going on with Bill Simmons, and the rise of podcasting.
Rich Keefe is joined by Dale Arnold and Ben Kichen to preview WrestleMania 33. Is it a good card? What will be the best match? Plus Ryan Davey is in for "This Week in #DORK" with a look a couple new trailers and the always great "Black Panther Reads #DORK iTunes Reviews."
Christian Fauria and Dr Gill go over the difficulties of staying healthy through the long grind of the playoffs in the NBA and in the NHL.
Ken Laird and Chris Curtis recap an Evan Drellich revival edition of the K&C Show on a Monday
Hour 1. Evan Drellich makes his casting couch return. Over the weekend, Michael Che affirmed that he believes Boston is “the most racist city” he has ever been to.More from this show
Hour 2. Evan Drellich defends Michael Che, saying that it’s possible to say Boston is racist if you are black. Gerry and Kirk battle with Drellich, defending the city against Michael Che’s allegations. In headlines, the guys revisit the Maison family.More from this show
Hour 4. Joe Sullivan didn’t want to appear on K&C. Instead, he appeared on Brand X. Drellich thinks working the beat is just as hard as when Gerry did it. Gerry likes Fences.More from this show
Hour 3. Drellich thinks Trump is a pathological liar while Gerry thinks Trump doesn’t lie as much as Obama. Kirk is sick of show promos and says K&C will no longer participate. Drellich says everyone did steroids just like everyone deflates balls.More from this show