Boston Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli is off to a red hot start in Spring Training. Even though he has only appeared in three games, will his success be able to transition into the 2013 MLB regular season?
Napoli agreed on a three-year, $39 million contract with Boston this past off-season, but a problem with his hip during the team’s physical examination forced him to sign a one-year deal worth $5 million. The seven-year veteran has avascular necrosis, a medical condition that can cause bone death and degeneration, in both hips. He can still make up to $13 million due to incentives, including staying on the active roster for at least 165 days and/or 625 plate appearances this season with 120 days on the roster.
The 31-year-old made his spring debut on March 1 as expected and went 1-for-2 with one RBI and run scored–a solid performance, but that was just Napoli getting warmed up. The former Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers first baseman/catcher has a .571 batting average, two home runs and five RBI in seven at-bats in three exhibition games.
It is hard to say if Napoli will be able to continue this success into the regular season considering the small sample size. However, the slugger is definitely known for his bat because he has hit at least 20 home runs in five of the seven seasons he has appeared in the big leagues. I certainly do not expect him to keep the batting average up, but the Red Sox believe he can deliver with quality power numbers.
If Napoli were somehow able to have a career year, it would be quite the bargain for Boston as they only owe him a minimum of $5 million. Considering he was originally going to get $13 million in 2013, I would say this is one heck of a deal if he can return to his 2011 form, in which he batted .320 with 30 home runs and 75 RBI in 369 at-bats. The only major concern is if his hips will be able to hold up the entire season.