Napoli finding success in spring training

Napoli finding success in spring training
March 7, 2013, 9:30 pm
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- If Mike Napoli were able to duplicate in the regular season what he has done in just three Grapefruit League games, his off-season acquisition by the Red Sox will be more than worth it. However, it’s safe to say his robust numbers -- a .571 batting average, a .571 on-base percentage, and a 1.429 slugging percentage -- won’t be the same when the calendar flips.

Napoli went 2-for-3 with a three-run home in the Red Sox 12-5 win over the split-squad Twins Thursday afternoon. It was his second home run in Grapefruit League play, third overall including his solo shot against Team Puerto Rico on Tuesday. All three have been of the towering variety.

“It feels good,” he said. “Just trying to go up to have team at-bats, get a good pitch to hit, and basically just trying got put good swings on balls and finding my barrel right now.”

Although he was delayed at the start of spring by the avascular necrosis that was diagnosed in both hips during his team physical in December, Napoli was not worried about how his swing would respond to the delay.

“I’m an older player so I kind of know my swing,” he said. “I know the drills I do in the cage to get myself right. It’s just working out right now. I’m just going to try to keep that feeling going throughout the spring and see what happens.”

But with each game he passes another test. In Thursday’s outing, after singling in the third inning, he attempted to go to third on Ryan Lavarnway’s single to center. Although he was thrown out sliding into the base, it was another check mark for him.

“Yeah, it felt good,” he said. “I got to go first to third and slide for the first time. I’m just checking things off to-do. I’m glad I got to do it, see how it felt. It felt good.”

Importantly, Napoli is playing without a sense of hesitancy, not concerned how his hips will respond.

“No, I just go out there and play the game,” he said. “Let it happen. I think when you go out there and try not to get hurt, that’s when bad things happen. So just go out there, play one speed all the time and things will be alright.”