“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.
Christian and Chris talk about overrated Pats players this season and in the past and then get into the QB issue on the team. They talk about all three guys, what they bring to the table and if they can keep their head above water without the best QB in the league for 4 weeks. Then...Karlos Williams was released by the Bills - should the Pats consider adding the overweight second year running back? Christian also brings up Dante Scarnecchia and gets Price's opinion on if this one man can truly improve a shaky offensive line.
Christian Arcand is in for Tanguay for NFL Sunday with Chris Price. The guys talk about the victory over the Bears, Jimmy G's progress and their expectations for the Pats defense this season. Arcand thinks that there are more holes on the D than some fans realize.
We check in with Bill Belichick after the first Preseason game for our weekly "Patriots Monday" discussion.
Sam Packard is joined by Celtics 2nd Round draft pick Abdel Nader to discuss his path to the the NBA and how he plans to improve his game. Sam then talks to Player Development Coach Nick Friedman from Elite Skills Training, the pre-Draft camp Nader attended. Friedman also gives his opinion on the Celtics performance at summer league and the development of Jaylen Brown.
Isaiah Thomas talks to Glenn and Lou about why he loves Boston, the NBA Money Bump, oh, and some Durant guy
Danny Ainge joins Glenn and Christian to explain the Celtics draft process; and he also discusses the trade rumors that permeated the night.
Joe and Tim talk with Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts after the Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays 2-1
David Price pitched a gem and Andrew Benintendi makes one of the top highlight catches of the year as the Sox take the first game of four against the Rays, 6-2. Christian Arcand recaps the game and takes all of your Sox calls.
Joe and Tim talk with Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi, who made a highlight reel catch nearly going over the wall in left field robbing Steven Souza Jr of a home run
Joey Mac joins Ken Laird on his Saturday show to discuss the David Backes addition and Loui Eriksson departure in NHL free agency
DJ and Pete continue to assess the season that was for the Bruins and look toward the future for the franchise and how they can improve.
DJ and Pete are together for the final Sunday Skate of the season. They get into their overall thoughts on the season, the Bruins keeping Claude Julien on as head coach and the end-of-season press conferences last week. They discuss the rebuild process, what the Bruins need and how they can obtain it. Plenty of callers have their own theories and opinions on all of these topics as well.
Minihane, Callahan and Mutnansky dive further into the Brady - Belichick dynamic as Tom's four-game suspension gets closer.
Gerry, Kirk, and Mut take NY Giants coach Ben McAdoo and SI writer Peter King to task for not addressing the Josh Brown domestic violence story.
Kirk and Callahan with Mut discuss the Tom Brady and Bill Belichick pressers from Tuesday and whether they reveal signs of a rift between the coach and QB.
NESN has hired a new anchor who has a history dating pro players. With the trend of that happening in Boston the last few years, does NESN need to keep an eye on Kacie McDonnell?
Now that center Bryan Stork has been cut, should we be concerned with the Patriots O-Line? Glenn, Lou and Christian talk about the Patriots O-Line and how Jimmy G will handle it in the first 4 weeks.
Sam Kennedy of the Red Sox calls in to talk to the guys about the proposed renovations at Fenway Park and if Jonathan Papelbon will ever sign.
We check in with the red hot rook of the Red Sox live from Tampa and talk to him about his first experiences in the big leagues.
We check in with John Farrell from Tampa for our weekly feature as the red hot Red Sox look to keep it going for two more wins at the Trop.
In honor of the announcement that the Sox will be among the team's at Tim Tebow's workout next week, we look at four pro athletes who tried their hand in a second sport and it didn't work out too well for them.
Kirk Minihane sits down with former producer Chris Curtis? Or is it current producer Chris Curtis? Either way, Kirk and Chris talk about what happened in their previous tenure together, where it went wrong, and why Curtis is now back with the show.
Kirk Minihane and Gary Tanguay sit down together on Enough About Me for the first time. These two divisive figures talk about Gary's career and his late evolution into a controversial broadcaster. Nobody is spared from Kirk and Gary's wrath on this episode and it will surely make some people at the two sports radio stations very uncomfortable.
Kirk Minihane sits down with Mut to answer questions from the fans. Kirk and Mut get into the issues with Dino, the other hosts at the station, Kirk's issues with drugs in the past, and the love fest between Kirk and Mut.
Jerry is joined by Red Sox legend Bill Lee to talk about his new biopic "Spaceman," Lee's unique philosophy, political beliefs, drug use and what makes him a cultural icon decades after he retired from baseball.
Christian Fauria and Dr. Gill talk about the process and steps football players have to take when rehabbing injuries during the off season. Focusing on Dion Lewis, Nate Solder, and Sebastian Vollmer
Week two of the Preseason is underway so Jim Hackett and Pete Davidson of the “Fantasy Football Hour” to offer some mid-August updates and opinion. In today’s show Jim and Pete offer analysis from the Thursday Night Patriots game and discuss LeGarrette Blount and the Patriots Running Attack in depth. Jim and Pete key on some recent news surrounding lots of players including Seattle’s and Chicago’s backfield, then get into the incredibly deep Wide Receiver position. Make sure to tune in for more on Sunday morning at 8:00am for “The Fantasy Football Hour.” Enjoy!
Tom Brady returned to practice after his unexplained days off to shed some light into his mysterious scissors injury that prevented him from playing last Thursday's preseason game.More from this show
Gerry, Mut, and Kirk discuss the Benintendi catch from Monday and what's looking like an incredible outfield for years to come; also the guys discuss the probation sentence given to an East Longmeadow youth charged with sexual assault.More from this show
Kirk & Callahan with Mut react to the latest Roger Goodell NFL wheel of justice rulingMore from this show
Minihane, Callahan and Mutnansky dive further into the Brady - Belichick dynamic as Tom's four-game suspension gets closer.More from this show
Kirk, Gerry and Mut start off the Tuesday show back in studio discussing the strange absences of Tom Brady throughout training camp, as well as all the sponsors that have bailed on swimmer Ryan Lochte.More from this show