Spring training notes: Napoli to receive follow-up MRI

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Spring training notes: Napoli to receive follow-up MRI

FORT MYERS, Fla. Mike Napoli is scheduled to undergo a follow-up MRI on Thursday. Napoli, who signed a one-year, 5 million contract with the Red Sox as a free agent in January, was found to have avascular necrosis in both hips during his physical with the team in December.

He has been restricted from doing any impact activities. Manager John Farrell said the teams hope is the results of the next MRI will allow Napoli to take on more impact and baseball activities.

And thatll be a gradual increase in baseball activities, Farrell said. Right now theres no impact or pounding, so to speak. Well get the evaluation of his doctor in New York once its reviewed, the MRI results, and then therell be a work plan laid out, not only volume but the type of work that will follow from that point.

Farrell is optimistic Napoli will be ready for Opening Day.

Right now everything still points to him being ready for opening day, Farrell said. Thursday and the next couple of days is going to give us a lot of information on how we can start his progression with more on field baseball activity.

Despite Will Middlebrooks break-out rookie season, which was cut short by a fractured right wrist, Farrell said there are a few things he would like the third baseman to work on.

I think theres areas defensively, just with his consistency of the footwork, maybe his range to his glove side I know are focal points that hell work with Brian Butterfield at here, Farrell said. But once again, when you talk about a young talented player still going through that cycle and full season for the first time well get to know more about him as well. I know one thing, Im glad hes here.

An area Farrell would like the team to work on is working counts better. Which may be accomplished just by the turnover the team has undergone this offseason.

I think when you look at the change in personnel probably had as much to do with that as anything, Farrell said. And the hitters that have been brought in here, the position players that have been brought in here, theres a distinct track record along those lines.

Daniel Nava, Mitch Maier, Lyle Overbay, and Mauro Gomez all worked out at first base today.

They will continue to take ground balls because as we mentioned yesterday theres that left-handed hitterback-up first basemanleft fielder thats one of the positions that you see those four guys in competition for, Farrell said. So barring any other additions well get as many reps as we can from each of those guys.

Left-hander Felix Doubront, who has been held back because of shoulder weakness, threw from 75 feet on Wednesday. Farrell said Doubront is expected to throw from 90 and 120 feet on Thursday, and remains on track to throw from a mound on Feb. 20.

All the position players, along with pitchers and catchers, have reported to camp except for right-fielder Shane Victorino. Jacoby Ellsbury has been in but has not worked out on the field yet. The first full-squad workout is scheduled for Friday.

Bob Tewksbury, the Sox sports psychology coach, is conducting mental skills clinics with the players. He met with starting pitchers Wednesday, and is scheduled to meet with the relievers on Thursday and position players after that.

Market for Encarnacion is shrinking, yet Red Sox still don't seem interested

Market for Encarnacion is shrinking, yet Red Sox still don't seem interested

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- As the annual winter meetings get underway today, the market for arguably the best free-agent hitter may be -- against all logic -- lessening.

Edwin Encarnacion, who has averaged 39 homers a year over the last five seasons, should be a player in demand.

But in quick succession, the Houston Astros and New York Yankees, two teams thought to be in the market for Encarnacion, opted to go with older hitters who required shorter deals -- Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday.

Further, the Toronto Blue Jays' signing of Steve Pearce to a two-year deal Monday, coupled with their earlier acquisition of Kendrys Morales, closes the door on a potential return to Toronto for Encarnacion.

Seemingly, all of that would position the Red Sox, in search of a DH to replace the retired David Ortiz, to swoop in and land Encarnacion for far less than they could have imagined only weeks ago.

And yet, it appears as though things would have to change considerably for the Red Sox to reach agreement with Encarnacion.

While the first baseman-DH is known to be Ortiz's first choice as his replacement, for now, the economics don't work for the Sox -- even as Enacarnacion's leverage drops.

Encarnacion is expecting a deal of at least four years, with an average annual value around $20 million.

The Red Sox, industry sources indicate, are very much mindful of the luxury tax threshold. The Sox have, however modestly, gone over the threshold in each of the last two seasons, and even with a bump due to last week's new CBA, the Sox are dangerously close to the 2018 limit of $195 million.

Should the Sox go over for a third straight year, their tax would similarly ratchet up.

That, and the fact that Encarnacion would cost the Sox their first-round pick next June -- for this offseason, compensation for players given a qualifying offer comes under the old CBA rules -- represents two huge disincentives.

It's far more likely that the Sox will seek a cheaper option at DH from among a group that includes Pedro Alvarez and Mike Napoli. Neither is in Encarnacion's class, but then again, neither would cost a draft pick in return, or the long-term investment that Encarnacion is said to be seeking.

Boomer Esiason witnessed Pete Rose hire people to sign autographs

Boomer Esiason witnessed Pete Rose hire people to sign autographs

Boomer Esiason tells Toucher & Rich a story from his early days in Cincinnati when he witnessed Pete Rose overseeing five guys he paid to sign a stack of photographs for fans.