“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, 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.
Fauria is still down in Houston and calls live from NRG Stadium to give his take on what will go down later on in Super Bowl 51. He likes the Pats and gives his reasons why, but also gets into the scene in Houston all week, famous people he met and why he is tired out from a wild week.
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.
Adrian Wojnarowski has been talking about the possibility of the Celtics making a trade with the Bulls to bring Jimmy Butler to Boston. He actually thinks it may be the the marquee deal to keep an eye on this week heading into the trade deadline. Pete and Jerry discuss and give their thoughts on if they would want Butler. Pete thinks it will happen, Jerry thinks Ainge will stay put. The guys get into more Celtics, present and future and if they can battle with the best of the NBA.
Anna Horford, sister of Boston Celtics Al Horford, makes her Boston radio debut. She talks about Twitter and reacting to mean tweets about her brother. She also gives us her thoughts on the city of Boston and racism.
Bradford checks in from spring training to give us all the media dirt he can dig up...oh, and talk some baseball too.
Rob Bradford is joined by Lou Merloni to talk life in spring training, his toiletries, sleeping arrangements, and facing off with Red Sox personnel that he might have been critical of. Rob and Lou also get into the dynamic of electronic and print media when it comes to ripping the Red Sox.
Pete, Bradford, and Tomase are talking all about the Boston Red Sox, who opened spring training on Monday with pitchers and catchers reporting. They talk about what the Red Sox approach at the plate will be to replace the loss of David Ortiz bat, the impact of some players participating in the WBC, and of course the pitching rotation.
Guys talk the Bruins season so far and the All-Star Break
Guys discuss if or when the Bruins will fire Coach Julian
Ken, Rear and Ty get into a very solid week for the B's beating St Louis and the Flyers and losing a hard-fought game against the Predators. Is this team turning things around? Krug and Marchand are kicking things up a notch. The guys also talk about Claude and Sweeney's job security before getting into some big hits around the league this week.
Hour 4. Red Sox broadcaster Dave O'Brien joins the show.
Hour 3. The guys take more calls on transgender bathrooms. Evan Drellich joins the show...again.
Dino reunites with the guys at spring training.
The Dallas Mavericks traded for Nerlens Noel, and dumped Andrew Bogut in the process, leading the guys to wonder why the Celts weren't pursuing 6'11" power forward/center.
Chris Mannix, Yahoo! Sports joined the show to give the latest on the NBA trade deadline.
The guys acknowledge that the Green-teamers will defend Danny whether he makes a move or not.
Dale, Michael and Rich Keefe discuss the C's lack of moves at the NBA trade deadline and try and figure out why, and what is the next best opportunity for the Celts to make a move?
Dale, Michael and Keefe discuss the comments made by Dave Dombrowski on K&C this morning concerning John Farrell and his in-game management.
We close out the show with the best sound bites of the day.
Kirk and Glenn continue their conversation from last week. In this episode Kirk and Glenn scream at each other about the infamous "station incident", what the news of the merger means to WEEI and the Sports Hub, and Kirk tries to get Glenn to answer what the perfect "Big Show" would be. You will not find a better look behind the scenes of radio.
Kirk sits down with the legend Glenn Ordway to talk about when Glenn got fired here at WEEI, his start with the station, the controversial decisions he made when he was the Program Director, and he relationship with Eddie Andelman.
Kirk chats with David Duchovny about his current music tour, which takes him to the Wilbur on February 22nd, how David got his start in television, from his first stint on Red Shoe Diaries, becoming a superstar on the X-Files, and his hilarious appearances on the Larry Sanders Show. This is a fascinating discussion about show business and controlling your own career.
Ken Laird and Chris Curtis recap Wednesday and Thursday's K&C shows on location in Ft. Myers
Kirk and Glenn continue their conversation from last week. In this episode Kirk and Glenn scream at each other about the infamous "station incident", what the news of the merger means to WEEI and the Sports Hub, and Kirk tries to get Glenn to answer what the perfect "Big Show" would be.
Rich Keefe & Ryan Davey talk best and worst movie/TV presidents. Plus the always important "This Week in #DORK" and the Pick of the Podcast.
Hour 4. Evan Drellich joins the show. A fight for the ages ensues.More from this show
Kirk and Glenn continue their conversation from last week. In this episode Kirk and Glenn scream at each other about the infamous "station incident", what the news of the merger means to WEEI and the Sports Hub, and Kirk tries to get Glenn to answer what the perfect "Big Show" would be.More from this show
Hour 1. Evan Drellich attacked Kirk and Gerry for their interview with John Farrell. Kirk had an accident.More from this show
Kirk and Glenn continue their conversation from last week. In this episode Kirk and Glenn scream at each other about the infamous "station incident", what the news of the merger means to WEEI and the Sports Hub, and Kirk tries to get Glenn to answer what the perfect "Big Show" would be. You will not find a better look behind the scenes of radio.More from this show
Hour 2. John Steigerwald says Brady doesn't pass the eye test. Headlines with Kirk.More from this show